SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is on track to start her reelection campaign with a healthy financial advantage once Republican voters choose their nominee in next month’s primary election.
The Democratic governor reported about $3.7 million in her campaign account Monday, more than twice as much as the nearest Republican candidate.
She benefits, of course, from not facing any opposition in the primary.
On the Republican side, former KRQE meteorologist Mark Ronchetti continues to enjoy a financial advantage.
He took in about $355,000 in recent cash contributions – more than the rest of the GOP field as a whole – and had $1.4 million left in his campaign account. Among those donating to Ronchetti’s campaign were several oil industry executives and former KRQE anchor Dick Knipfing.
“New Mexicans are ready for the change that our campaign for governor represents,” Ronchetti said in a statement, “and I’m grateful for their support.”
State Rep. Rebecca Dow raised the next-most among Republican candidates for governor. She accepted about $153,000 in new contributions and had $495,000 in cash on hand.
“There’s tremendous energy surrounding our movement and it’s imperative that we get the job done,” said Dow, who has clashed with Ronchetti over her voting record in the Legislature and his past comments about former President Donald Trump.
Among Dow’s largest donors Monday were people or companies involved in ranching or the oil and gas industry.
Lujan Grisham, who was elected governor in 2018 and is seeking a second four-year term, entered this year’s election cycle with more than $2 million in her campaign account.
During the recent four-week reporting period, the governor got a $10,000 contribution from fellow Democrat Karen Bass, a congresswoman who is running for mayor of Los Angeles. She also reported hefty donations from several labor unions.
But Lujan Grisham also faced limitations in her fundraising, as she was barred from soliciting contributions during an April 5 special legislative session and for 20 days after adjournment. That’s due to a state “blackout period” law aimed at preventing campaign donations that might be intended to sway governors during bill-signing periods.
Among the other Republican candidates for governor, Greg Zanetti reported $51,000 in contributions this period, Jay Block about $40,000 and Ethel Maharg about $6,000.
Libertarian candidate Karen Bedonie raised about $7,000.
The campaign finance reports filed Monday are the second of four mandatory reports covering the primary election cycle.
They come as New Mexico enters the final four-week stretch before the June 7 primary, when voters will choose nominees for governor and other statewide executive offices. All 70 seats in the state House are also on the ballot.
Absentee balloting and limited early voting begin Tuesday. County clerks throughout the state will begin mailing absentee ballots to voters who have requested them.
All 33 New Mexico county clerks will also offer in-person voting at one site. In Bernalillo County, the clerk’s annex at 1500 Lomas NW in Albuquerque will be open for people who want to cast a ballot in person.
Expanded early voting begins May 21.
The figures outlined in Monday’s reports cover the 27-day period ending May 2.
• A political committee backed by lawyers poured about $88,000 into campaigns this period, delivering a number of contributions to Democrats in contested primaries.
Among those receiving donations from the Committee on Individual Responsibility were state Reps. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe, Kristina Ortez of Taos and Susan Herrera of Embudo, all progressive Democrats facing primary challengers.
Each received $5,200, the maximum donation allowed for a legislative race in the primary.
• The Democratic candidates for state auditor each raised over $20,000 this period.
Public Regulation Commissioner Joseph Maestas took in $23,000 and has about $85,000 in his campaign account, while Zack Quintero, a former state ombudsman, raised $27,000 and has $60,000 on hand.
The only other person in the race is a Libertarian write-in candidate.
• Democratic attorney general candidate Raúl Torrez reported $120,000 in recent contributions and $382,000 in his campaign account. The report of his opponent in the primary, Brian Colón, hadn’t been published on the state site by 9 p.m.
Republican attorney general candidate Jeremy Gay reported $15,000 in contributions and $70,000 in cash on hand.