Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico Republicans have launched an expensive new campaign called “Respect New Mexico” that appears to target state voters who might be disillusioned by a recent progressive surge.
The campaign is funded by more than $160,000 from two GOP legislative caucus committees and will feature billboards, hats, T-shirts and more.
Its centerpiece is a nearly four-minute video that features a narrator highlighting New Mexico’s differences from New York, Texas and California.
The video does not mention names but says current state leaders want to exert more control over New Mexico schools, families and ways of life.
“They want us to live like they do, to think like they do and to believe that the way to make progress is to leave behind what we’ve always done and who we’ve always been,” the video’s narrator says.
House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia, said the campaign has been in the works for about 18 months.
“It is our desire and our aim to make New Mexico a better state,” Townsend told the Journal. “We want the people of New Mexico to flourish.”
He said the Respect New Mexico campaign was not targeted at any particular political segment but at New Mexicans of all political persuasions.
However, all legislative candidates listed on the campaign’s website are Republicans.
The New Mexico Legislature has been controlled by Democrats for most of the past 80 years, with Republicans holding fleeting majorities in the House and Senate.
All 112 legislative seats are up for election in November, and Democrats currently hold a 46-24 advantage in the House and a 26-16 edge in the Senate.
Seven incumbent senators were defeated in this month’s primary election, including five Democrats who were ousted by more progressive challengers.
Meanwhile, the Respect New Mexico video did not come cheap.
The New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee, which is controlled by Townsend, reported last month having spent more than $84,000 on advertising with Clear Channel Outdoor, a Los Angeles-based firm.
And the Senate Republican’s caucus committee – officially called PAC 22 – reported a separate $84,000 expenditure with the same company in early May.
New Mexico Republican Party chairman Steve Pearce said the state GOP was a “small contributor” to the campaign in terms of money, time and energy.
“Respect New Mexico is a grassroots campaign that didn’t come out of the party, but that we wholeheartedly embrace,” Pearce said in a statement, adding he had shared the video with friends who are Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Townsend said Respect New Mexico billboards will be going up soon along New Mexico’s two busiest roadways: Interstates 25 and 40.
“You’ll see it in lots of places,” Townsend said.