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Nonprofit group puts focus on NM economy

SANTA FE – A nonprofit group with ties to several prominent New Mexico Republicans is making waves by highlighting the state’s sluggish economy.

The group, Adelante Now, launched full-page ads in several publications – including the Journal – in recent weeks that focus on job growth and poverty-related figures.

While the ads don’t directly criticize any elected officials, they describe the state as being in “dire circumstances” and in need of a new direction.

Harvey Yates Jr., a Republican National Committee member and former state GOP chairman who serves as Adelante Now’s board president, said the group intends to come up with an economic plan for the state and the recent ads were a step in that effort.

“It is clear that New Mexico needs to head in a different direction,” Yates said in an email to the Journal . “Who is stepping up to lead the effort? We hear noise from politicians with magnificent egos, but nothing much seems to get done.”

Yates, who was elected as an RNC member last year, has previously expressed concern that New Mexico’s economic troubles – including the nation’s second-highest jobless rate – could hurt Republicans at the polls.

He has also been critical of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s political adviser, Jay McCleskey, and her governing style.

However, he said, Adelante Now does not have a political arm – in the form of a registered political committee – and is not pushing any specific bills during the 60-day legislative session that started Tuesday.

“There is no plan to advocate for a particular policy proposal at the … legislative session, but it certainly does the state no harm to remind legislators of the state of our state,” Yates said.

Other members of the Adelante Now board of directors include state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi, former state Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, and Mark Murphy, a Roswell oilman who has donated large sums of money to Republican candidates.

Founded in 2001, Adelante Now was focused for years on funding tutoring efforts in public schools in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, but undertook a new mission – that of job creation – in 2015.

As part of that mission, the group contracted with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico for a study comparing New Mexico job creation rates with the rates of neighboring states.

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