Political ads pick up as Election Day approaches - Albuquerque Journal

Political ads pick up as Election Day approaches

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – It’s September in New Mexico, which means the scent of roasting green chile in the air and political ads aplenty.

With two months to go until Election Day, at least 14 outside groups have already launched TV ads in New Mexico since June, according to public filings, with most of them targeting the state’s gubernatorial and congressional races.

That list includes political committees affiliated with national Democratic and Republican governors groups, along with the political arm of Planned Parenthood of New Mexico.

University of New Mexico political science professor Gabriel Sanchez said the outside spending blitz could impact some close races, including the race for the southern New Mexico-based 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Yvette Herrell.

But he also said some voters might be numb to the high volume spending on TV ads, mailers and other campaign activities.

“With record-breaking money spent just about each successive election, the impact of each individual ad diminishes a bit as voters become somewhat overwhelmed with all of the content coming at them,” Sanchez told the Journal.

The latest group to make a splash is the Washington, D.C.-based Save the Children Action Network, which announced Wednesday it plans to spend $500,000 to back Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign. That includes a $400,000 digital ad buy, along with spending on voter postcards, phone banking and door-to-door campaigning.

Save the Children Action Network also supported Lujan Grisham’s 2018 run for governor with a $400,000 ad buy on broadcast TV and online.

Lacey Daniell-Miller, the group’s New Mexico state manager, said Wednesday the planned political spending was intended to draw public awareness to early childhood education and child nutrition issues, such as the creation of a new Cabinet-level state early childhood department in 2020.

“We think we’re headed in the right direction under her leadership,” Daniell-Miller said, referring to the incumbent Democratic governor. “Most of what she’s done, we really advocated for.”

While the early childhood ads launched by the group are likely to be welcomed by Lujan Grisham’s campaign, Sanchez said some attack ads from outside groups can create challenges for candidates intended to benefit from the advertising.

Under state and federal election laws, outside groups are generally prohibited from coordinating with political candidates.

“If an attack ad is aggressive and personal, voters may be turned off by it which can hurt the campaign of the candidate not being targeted even if that candidate had no say in airing the advertisement,” he said.

Already, some outside groups have launched TV ads with dubious claims.

An ad launched recently by Stronger New Mexico, a political committee affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, accused Republican Mark Ronchetti of wanting to get rid of health care coverage for 300,000 New Mexico residents.

The criticism was based on comments Ronchetti made in 2020, when he was running for an open U.S. Senate seat and said the federal Affordable Care Act should be replaced and that residents should have more say over how their health insurance dollars are spent.

But Ronchetti has not said that New Mexicans who qualified for health care coverage after the state opted into Medicaid expansion in 2014 – during the administration of former Gov. Susana Martinez – should be removed from the joint federal-state health care program.

Meanwhile, a recent RGA ad accused Lujan Grisham of being the only candidate in the race who had denied a funding request to add more police officers.

But that claim dates back to 2012, when Lujan Grisham was a Bernalillo County commissioner.

As governor, she signed a $8.5 billion budget bill this year that includes 16% salary increases for State Police officers and funding for law enforcement recruitment and retention efforts.

The general election is set for Nov. 8, with absentee voting scheduled to get underway Oct. 11.

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