SANTA FE – The battle for control of the New Mexico Legislature isn’t going unnoticed outside state lines as national groups from both sides of the political spectrum are already lining up behind various state legislative candidates – and, in some cases, giving hefty campaign contributions.
The Republican State Leadership Committee announced this week that three New Mexico legislative candidates – along with the state’s GOP secretary of state candidate, Nora Espinoza – are among the initial 16 candidates nationwide the group will back in this year’s election cycle.
In past election cycles, a state-level political committee affiliated with the Washington, D.C.-based group has given big donations to New Mexico Republicans, including Gov. Susana Martinez’s political action committee.
The three legislative candidates highlighted by the Republican State Leadership Committee’s “races to watch” list this year are House District 24 candidate Christina Hall of Albuquerque, Senate District 29 candidate Greg Baca of Belen and Senate District 9 candidate Diego Espinoza of Rio Rancho.
The RSLC, which has launched initiatives designed to recruit female and Hispanic candidates, described the 16 selected candidates as “rising stars in the party who are ready to champion conservative governing and who represent the full diversity and depth of our electorate.”
A spokeswoman for the Republican State Leadership Committee told the Journal that New Mexico is “undoubtedly one of the most competitive states” on the electoral map this year, but did not say whether each of the selected candidates will be getting financial support from the group.
Meanwhile, a pro-Democratic political group focused on getting female candidates who support abortion rights elected to office has endorsed six New Mexico House candidates in competitive races and has made direct campaign donations to four of them.
The Emily’s List contributions include two $5,400 donations, the maximum allowable for the primary and general election cycles, to House District 24 candidate and former legislator Liz Thomson of Albuquerque, House District 15 candidate Ane Romero of Albuquerque, House District 37 candidate Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces and House District 4 candidate Glojean Todacheene of Shiprock.
In addition, according to recent campaign spending reports, the group has given a $500 contribution to Senate District 39 candidate Liz Stefanics of Santa Fe, who is also a former lawmaker.
Emily’s List is also backing New Mexico’s Democratic candidate for secretary of state, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Control of both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature is at stake in the Nov. 8 general election. Republicans currently hold a 37-33 majority the House of Representatives, while Democrats hold a 24-18 edge in the Senate.
All 112 legislative seats are up for election, though fewer than half of those seats feature contested races.
So far during the 2016 primary and general election cycles, New Mexico legislative candidates have received more than $7 million in contributions and reported spending more than $4 million, according to state campaign filings. Those totals don’t reflect money raised and spent by independent political groups, or Super PACs, that can accept donations of any size, but cannot coordinate directly with candidates.