Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Money Race: Pearce And Lujan Grisham In Solid Shape; Joe Gives A Jolt And Writes A Million Dollar Check; APO Running Low On Ammo Plus The Cash Count In Other Big State Primary Contests.  

Where are most of the statewide candidates headed now that they've filed their money reports covering the last six months? Well, most of them will make a beeline to the desks of thankful TV executives who will have no trouble putting to work the hundreds of thousands raised by the contestants. Let's take a look at the cash hauls filed with the SOS Monday and start with the top of the ballot. . .

Steve Pearce is holding his own in the money department but can he continue his fund-raising pace with a Blue wind blowing in his face? That's a question that arose as the gubernatorial hopefuls filed their finance reports for the six months ending April 2.

Right now it's pretty much even-steven between the two leading Guv contenders. Pearce reports $2.1 million in cash on hand and Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham reports $1.8 million. Pearce raised $1.6 million in the period but that included a transfer of over $780,000 from his congressional fund.

Lujan Grisham came with $1.4 million raised in the period and has now raised a grand total of $3.6 million for Campaign '18. That means she has burned through half of her cash but she did score a landslide win at the Dem preprimary and remains the odds-on fave to take the Dem prize so her supporters argue it was not overspending but money well spent. The expenditures this period include $108,000 for TV production. Her campaign says her ads for the June 5 primary will start this month. She also spent $158,000 on polling.

(Full Pearce report here. Lujan Grisham report here. Joe Cervantes report here. Jeff Apodaca report here. AP coverage here. New Mexican here. Journal here.)

Pearce's campaign is not going to starve but the momentum is with the Dem candidate and she is on pace to outraise him, especially if polling shows the race tilting her way.  But with $2 million already in the bank and no primary opponent Pearce has a solid financial foundation to build on. A Dem consultant commented:

Steve Pearce will not lose the Governor's because of money. If he loses it will be because this turned out to be a Democratic year.

So it's unlikely the Dems will overpower Pearce financially. He has a long and successful record of raising money. He also has something else in his corner. The most recent ranking of the NM Governor's race from heavily followed pundit Larry Sabato has it "lean Democrat" not "likely Dem." That will help Pearce blockade the narrative that the contest is a done deal for the Dems--at least until when or if public polling shows otherwise.

Meanwhile Sabato's "Crystal Ball" has the US Senate race here featuring incumbent Dem Martin Heinrich as "Safe" and not the lower rank of "likely Dem" that GOP Senate hopeful Mick Rich may have been hoping for.


Joe Cervantes gave the Guv race a jolt as the attorney, state senator and agri-businessman wrote a check from his personal bank account for $1 million and plopped it into his campaign account. That's on top of an earlier $500,000 he loaned himself. And he hasn't spent much of his loot, leaving $1.4 million in cash on hand. Hey, if spent wisely that could do some serious damage. So will he?

That was the question on the lips of politicos statewide (including Michelle and Jeff) as they gave the multi-million dollar man another look. The other question being how do you apply for a job with the Joe Cervantes campaign and help him spend that pile?

His campaign says it's the real deal, with a spokesman predicting a TV buy in the area of $600,000. One thing for sure: Cervantes can now argue he's the man nobody  owns. 

Oldtimers will pick up on what we just said. When Jerry Apodaca ran successfully for Governor in 1974 his slogan was: "The man nobody owns." Now his son, Jeff, is trying to follow in Dad's footsteps but is having trouble gaining traction. He reports only $323,000 in cash on hand for the final two months. That's enough to get on TV strong for a couple of weeks but that's not enough to win.

Part of the problem is the spending. He raised $253,000 and spent $628K. Apodaca has loaned his campaign $450,000 in personal money. If elected, Jeff has promised to bring 225,000 jobs to the state. Judging by the numbers of hangers-on he has on the campaign payroll, he's down to 224,000.

And what's up with those "consulting fees" of $14,000 Apodaca paid to former Guv candidate Peter DeBenedettis who at the March 10 preprimary convention dropped out of the race and endorsed Apodaca? A couple of days later the $14k is dropped on Peter who was also named Apodaca's communications director. Well played, Peter. Even Jay McCleskey and Alan Packman would have trouble pulling off that deal.


Howie Morales led the Dem pack of lieutenant governor candidates in the fund-raising derby, raising $103,000, spending $52K and leaving him with $53K in cash on hand. He did that despite not getting started until December and by law not being allowed to raise money for 45 days during and around the legislative session.

The political committees of several fellow state senators of Morales kicked in considerable cash, including ABQ Sen. Ivey-Soto who came with $5,000. Amon Morales' major expenditures was campaign consulting provided by Jim Farrell.

Morales scored a big win at the Dem preprimary and is favored to take the June 5 nomination, but Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett had a solid fund-raising period reporting $78K. Former ABQ State Rep. Rick Miera raised $58K.


Las Cruces State Rep. Bill McCamley outraised his Dem rival Brian Colón, but Colón's camp was quick to point out that Colón got in the race late in the reporting period (in early January) and also that McCamley loaned himself $45,000 of the $111,000 he reported raising. Colón, known for his fund-raising prowess, reported raising $76,000 for the three months his report covered.

Appointed GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson will be the R nominee. He reports raising $43K and a cash balance of $37K.


Garrett VeneKlasen was the leading money raiser in this one but he also spent a lot of what he raised. He took in $145,000 and sent out $131,000. His cash balance is $82,000.

State Sen. George Munoz loaned himself $100,000 in the reporting period and has spent some on TV. He is reporting $160,000 cash on hand. Munoz fared poorly at the preprimary convention, getting below 20 percent of the vote. But with that kind of personal cash could he become only the second person in history to win the June 5 primary without getting 20 percent at the preprimary?

Stephanie Garcia Richard raised $55,000 spent $54,000 and had a cash balance of $30,000. That cash balance seems a bit low and gives Munoz hope that he will not split as much of the Hispanic vote with her as his supporters fear. We'll see.

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