Ronchetti tops GOP gubernatorial field with $2.1M in donations - Albuquerque Journal

Ronchetti tops GOP gubernatorial field with $2.1M in donations

In this file photo, Republican gubernatorial candidates Rebecca Dow, Ethel Maharg, Jay Block, Greg Zanetti and Mark Ronchetti stand on stage together before facing one-on-one interviews with the president of the New Mexico Business Coalition, Carla Sonntag.(Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Republican Mark Ronchetti’s campaign for governor has raised over $2.1 million since October – more than twice as much as any other GOP candidate in the race, according to reports filed Monday.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, in turn, announced her own hefty haul, of nearly $2.7 million in recent donations.

Monday’s finance reports offered the first peek this year at the financial strength of New Mexico’s candidates for governor. The documents cover activity for the six months ending April 4.

Ronchetti, a former meteorologist at KRQE, a CBS affiliate, led the Republican field with about $2.1 million in cash contributions, making him the only GOP candidate to report over $1 million, much less $2 million, for the period.

State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, took in the next-highest total at $751,000 in donations, a figure that includes a $40,000 loan to herself.

Ronchetti spent more than the other GOP candidates but still led in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, with about $1.6 million in his account.

In a written statement, Ronchetti said he was honored by the support.

“New Mexicans want safer streets, meaningful border security, and excellent schools that focus on the basics,” he said.

Among his largest contributors are ranchers, oil and gas companies, members of the Perot family in Dallas; and Allen Weh, a former chairman of the state Republican Party.

Dow, a member of the state House district since 2017, was backed by over $70,000 in donations from members of the Yates family and affiliated trusts – some of which is reserved for the general election campaign. The Artesia family has been a prominent part of the oil and gas industry.

Dow’s report also included a host of contributions from fellow Republican legislators, among other donors. She reported a closing balance of $684,000.

“We’ve connected with thousands of voters across New Mexico with our conservative, New Mexico first approach and the response has been truly humbling,” Dow said in a statement.

The state’s campaign finance website had some technical trouble Monday as candidates uploaded their reports. By 6 p.m., the reports of two candidates, Republican Jay Block and Lujan Grisham, hadn’t been published on the site, but their campaigns provided estimates to the Journal.

The other Republican candidates include:

• Greg Zanetti, a military veteran and financial adviser who reported $169,000 in cash donations this period.

• Block, a Sandoval County commissioner and Air Force retiree who said his report would show roughly $130,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.

• Ethel Maharg, a former mayor of Cuba and an anti-abortion activist, reported about $13,000 in recent donations.

The five GOP candidates are engaged in a competitive race to challenge Lujan Grisham this fall.

The primary election is June 7, and absentee balloting begins May 10.

Lujan Grisham, who is seeking reelection to a second term, doesn’t face any opposition in the Democratic primary.

Her campaign said she had raised nearly $2.7 million despite facing a number of fundraising blackout periods. State law prohibits her from seeking donations during and 20 days after legislative sessions, creating more than 80 days of prohibited activity in recent months.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico said Lujan Grisham is well-positioned for the fall.

“As demonstrated by these completely underwhelming fundraising numbers, the entire GOP gubernatorial field is weak and floundering,” Democratic spokeswoman Delaney Corcoran said.

The Nov. 8 general election will also feature a Libertarian candidate. Karen Bedonie, who initially ran as a Republican before switching her affiliation to Libertarian, reported $24,000 in recent donations.

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