In the spring, after the first round of campaign finance report filings in statewide races, I wrote a story about the fact that Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham appeared to be bucking the trend in recent election cycles of out-of-state contributors playing an oversized role in New Mexico campaigns.
Lujan Grisham’s April report showed that more than 82 percent of the money she’d raised came from people with New Mexico addresses. In contrast, Gov. Susana Martinez’s in-state contribution numbers came in at about 60 percent in 2014, while in 2006, Gov. Bill Richardson’s in-state percentage was less than 54 percent.
However, the campaign finance report Lujan Grisham filed last week shows that her percentage of in-state contributions dropped down close to Martinez/Richardson levels. Of the $1.3 million she reported raising during the past six months, $864,667 came from New Mexico. That’s about 63 percent of the total. Combined with the cash she took in from her first report, more than 70 percent of the $2.2 million Lujan Grisham raised comes from New Mexicans.
Meanwhile, Republican Steve Pearce — who raised slightly more than $1 million since he jumped into the gubernatorial race in July — had an in-state percentage that was similar to Lujan Grisham’s April report. Just over $811,000, or 81 percent, came from New Mexicans. And had former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his wife used their Taos address instead of their one in Washington, D.C., the percentage would have been even higher. (Don and Joyce Rumsfeld gave a total of $22,000 to the Pearce campaign.)
And yes, I am aware that there are other candidates running for governor. But two Democrats running in the primary against Lujan Grisham — Jeff Apodaca and Joseph Cervantes — are largely self-funded, so their campaign finance reports aren’t nearly as much fun. Apodaca, an Albuquerque businessman who is the son of former Gov. Jerry Apodaca, reported $900,306 in campaign contributions, with $450,000 coming from personal loans to his campaign. Cervantes, a state senator from Las Cruces, reported just over $555,000 since July, of which $400,000 came from a personal loan from himself.
And if dark horse Democrat Peter De Benedittis of Santa Fe filed a report last week, as of Thursday morning it hadn’t showed up on the Secretary of State’s Office website.
While most of Lujan Grisham’s money still came from New Mexicans, most of her biggest donors in the new report are from out of state. Only two of the 11 contributors who gave $11,000 — the maximum allowed — come from this state. (Her first report showed three $11,000 contributions, all from New Mexico sources.)
Pearce received far more $11,000 contributions in the new reports — 27 altogether. Twenty of those showed New Mexico addresses, with the lion’s share being from the oil industry.
In the spring, I cautioned that “Lujan Grisham’s percentage of contributions from New Mexico could drop as money arrives from national unions, out-of-state political action committees and groups such as the Democratic Governors Association. But if she keeps the percentage of money from New Mexicans high, she could stem cynicism that out-of-state interests have an oversized influence on state elections.”
As Bobby Goldsboro would say, “Dream on, little broomstick cowboy.”
And Pearce will probably break our hearts as well. Don’t be surprised if the Republican’s in-state contribution numbers drop as national groups start paying more attention to the New Mexico governor’s race.
And that attention is bound to happen. The national parties care who we elect governor next year — not because they want good government in our enchanted land and want good lives for the people who live here. They actually care a lot more about the redistricting of congressional seats that will occur after the 2020 U.S. census. So prepare for more big money from the outside to pour in.