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SANTA FE – With six months until the general election, New Mexico’s gubernatorial race is already drawing hefty spending from national groups – with more to come on the horizon.
A political committee affiliated with the Republican Governors Association launched a new television ad campaign in New Mexico this week targeting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of border issues.
In addition, the Democratic Governors Association announced Wednesday it plans to spend $2.5 million on TV ads in the state this fall. Lujan Grisham currently serves as the DGA’s chairwoman, a high-profile political post.
Combined with the TV ads aired by candidates, the latest ad buys could indicate a competitive governor’s race on tap in New Mexico, said longtime New Mexico political observer Brian Sanderoff.
“The 2022 general election is going to be more competitive in New Mexico than what we saw in 2018 or even 2020,” said Sanderoff, who is the president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc.
He said Democrats could face headwinds nationally due to President Joe Biden’s sagging approval ratings, inflation and the fact there’s traditionally been a backlash against the political party whose nominee won the most recent presidential election.
Given that backdrop, Sanderoff said national political groups are targeting their resources at races around the country that could be in play come November, based on polling and other research.
In New Mexico, five Republican candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in the June primary election, with whoever wins set to face off against Lujan Grisham and a Libertarian candidate in the November general election.
The new ad launched by a political committee affiliated with the RGA is currently scheduled to run through this week on Albuquerque network stations, according to public filings. The cost of the ad campaign is more than $150,000, according to an RGA spokesman.
Specifically, the 60-second ad highlights Lujan Grisham’s 2019 decision to remove New Mexico National Guard troops from the state’s southern border with Mexico that had been deployed in a support role by her predecessor, Republican ex-Gov. Susana Martinez.
The ad cites an increase in human trafficking cases at the border and contrasts Lujan Grisham’s approach with those taken by the governors of Arizona and Texas – both Republicans – but does not mention cost and other issues related to deploying National Guard troops in those states.
Meanwhile, the DGA’s plan to launch an ad campaign in New Mexico is part of a broader $75 million campaign the group plans to launch in seven states with governor’s races on tap. In addition to New Mexico, the other states are Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nevada.
New Mexico’s primary election will occur June 7, with absentee voting set to begin next week.