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Politics notebook: Radio spots target Democratic senator

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico nonprofit with a history of sharply crafted “public awareness” campaigns is at it again.

This time, the Albuquerque-based Center for Civic Policy has launched a radio spot targeting Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat.

The spot focuses on Smith’s role in blocking a proposed constitutional amendment, backed by the nonprofit, that would earmark funding from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education programs.

It features two children who tout the benefits of the proposed amendment and urges Smith – using the phrase “pretty please” – to allow the measure to be voted on in his committee during the 2014 legislative session.

A mailer with a similar message will be sent to residents of Smith’s Senate district starting this week, the nonprofit’s communications director Javier Benavidez told the Journal.

Smith, known for his conservative fiscal views, has said raiding the permanent fund would be a harmful long-term move. He did not schedule a hearing on the proposal during this year’s 60-day legislative session, saying the measure did not have enough votes to pass his committee.

The Center for Civic Policy has successfully argued in federal court that its efforts are educational and do not amount to electioneering, which would be barred under their tax-exempt, nonprofit status.

GOP women : Gov. Susana Martinez’s re-election campaign could get financial backing from a new super PAC aimed at helping female GOP candidates.

If nothing else, Martinez has already earned the praise of Christine Toretti, a Pennsylvania energy executive who will head up the Women Lead political committee.

Toretti, a Republican national committeewoman and high-profile donor, cited Martinez and three other Republican women as the type of candidates the fledgling super PAC will look to support in the 2014 election cycle, according to the online news site Politico.

“I really, really like Susana Martinez a lot,” Toretti told Politico. “I’m hoping that we’ll be able to play in some of those gubernatorial races.”

Super PACs, or independent political committees, are not subject to New Mexico political donation limits as long as they do not coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.

However, such groups generally have to register with the state and file campaign reports. As such, it is unclear exactly how Women Lead will participate in state races during next year’s election cycle, according to Politico.