In expensive governor's race, Lujan Grisham outspent her rivals - Albuquerque Journal

In expensive governor’s race, Lujan Grisham outspent her rivals

Yvette Valencia takes orders from Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Espanola, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, right, at Dandy’s Burgers in Española on Sept. 8. Lujan Grisham outraised her Republican opponent by more than $3 million. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham outraised – and outspent – her Republican opponent, Mark Ronchetti, by over $3 million during her successful campaign for reelection, according to campaign records.

And it appears to have been a much more expensive race overall than four years ago.

Lujan Grisham, Ronchetti and Libertarian Karen Bedonie reported nearly $23 million in spending during the 2022 election cycle, well above the $14 million reported at a similar point in the 2018 campaign.

Lujan Grisham alone spent about $13 million on her reelection bid, according to Monday’s campaign finance reports. Ronchetti spent almost $9.5 million.

The total spending by the gubernatorial candidates was among the highest ever for a contested race for public office in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham won the hard-hitting race by 6 percentage points.

The campaign filings due Monday are the fourth and final report for the 2022 election. They cover activity for a 61-day period running from the week before Election Day through the end of the year.

Lujan Grisham’s campaign spending in the final week included more than $25,700 to a private jet company, Vincent Jets, for staff travel. She also spent heavily late in the campaign on campaign consultants, according to Monday’s report.

Among her big donors before Election Day were $10,000 each from outgoing U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and New York radio host Barry Cope.

Among Ronchetti’s large donors in the latest report were contributions from individuals in the oil and gas, ranching and aviation industries. The donations included $1,000 from Legacy Church senior pastor Steve Smothermon, whose comments about Ronchetti’s position on abortion roiled the race at times.

Ronchetti’s late spending – about $542,000 overall in the final report – was heavy on campaign commercials, fuel and lodging.

In the run-up to Election Day, Ronchetti crisscrossed the state on a 42-stop RV tour spanning 10 days.

The campaign also spent about $169,000 in the final week before Election Day on airtime or ad production costs, according to Monday’s report.

Bedonie, the Libertarian candidate, raised and spent about $149,000 in her campaign for the election cycle – just a fraction of what her Democratic and Republican rivals raised.

Her late spending covered fuel, vehicle repair and maintenance, meals, sign removal and other costs.

The final reports also show significant spending by independent groups:

• A committee affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association spent about $11.3 million under the name “A Stronger New Mexico.” A second DGA-affiliated PAC spent about $476,000.

• A committee affiliated with the Republican Governors Association reported about $6.9 million in spending during the 2022 election cycle.

• The “Yes on the Children’s Amendment” committee spent about $1.7 million in the cycle, supported by funding from the National Education Association union.

The campaign sought voter approval of the constitutional amendment to withdraw more money out of New Mexico’s largest permanent fund to pay for early childhood education and public schools.

It won support from about 70% of voters.

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