Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Looking At The Money Reports In Spirited Dem Primary Races For Attorney General And State Treasurer, Plus: The Oil Boys And Dow 

Onward we go into the campaign money thicket with a look today at campaign finance reports from statewide candidates and what they could mean for the June 7 primary. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL--A funny thing happened on the way to the Democratic primary battle for the attorney general nomination. It may have to be Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez who has to go negative on State Auditor Brian Colón. 

The early campaign buzz had it that the uber-friendly Colón did not have it in him to go after Torrez and that in a tight race that would be essential. But now the race may not be all that tight and the onus is on Torrez. 

Colón buried Torrez in an avalanche of cash in the report covering the last six months ending April 4 reporting $1.2 million in cash on hand. Torrez reports $563,000 in cash and is putting up his first TV ad this week. Colón is expected to follow suit next week. 

There is already a hint of the negative from the DA whose ad urges his nomination by saying "a prosecutor not a politician.' That's a none too subtle hit on Colón who is indeed a professional politician with the nickname "The Most Photographed Man in New Mexico."

The news turned for the worse for Torrez when Colón scored a landslide at the March Dem preprimary convention, winning 61 percent 39 percent. Now he has a better than 2 to 1 lead in cash going into the final crucial weeks. Still, Torrez has a lot of time and enough money to get some positive vibes going.

Among Colón's contributors in the new report are oil giant Chevron donating $10,400. That's $5,200 for the primary and the same amount for the general election. Ed Garcia of the ABQ automative family and a major downtown landowner and developer gave $10,000 as did his wife. The ABQ plumbers and pipefitters union contributed $2,000. 

Torrez was supported by Ultra Health, the state's largest cannabis company, to the tune of $2,500; ABQ attorney Ray Vargas donated $2,600 and former Dem NM Attorney General Paul Bardacke wrote a check for $500.

Insiders are still asking if billionaire George Soros will come with big PAC money for Torrez as he did when Torrez first ran for district attorney. The answer so far is no, making the DA's first foray into statewide politics a harder climb than he may have expected. 

Jeremy Gay is the GOP AG candidate. He has no primary opposition.


The heat in the race for the Dem nod for state treasurer is so intense it will burn through your sandals. Now you wonder if the election night results will be as competitive as the money reports the dueling candidates filed this week. Both hopefuls reported $24,000 in cash on hand April 4, probably less than expected for those following this sometimes emotional battle. 

The low-key fundraising means no TV ads or very few for the pair. 

Montoya beat Benavidez at the Dem preprimary convention 58% to 42% and has been elected a county treasurer. Benavidez ran and lost a race for magistrate court judge in Valencia county but she has the backing of current Treasurer Tim Eichenberg who donated $1,100 to her campaign.

More noticeably, Eichenberg, who is termed out, has been openly attacking Montoya and drawing press attention that may or may not be helpful to Benavidez who also has backing from her father in law, former state Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez who gave $500. 

Montoya reported over a third of the money she raised in the covered period came from the progressive Placitas-based political committee Adelante Sandoval which donated $10,000 of the $28,000 she raised. Montoya also received support from former Treasurer Doug Brown, a Republican who was appointed to fill a vacancy by Democratic Gov. Richardson. He contributed $1,000. 

The Republican candidate for treasurer is Harry Montoya of Santa Fe. He has no primary opposition. The Dem nominee will be heavily favored to win the race in the November general election, 


An important addendum to our follow the money blog on Monday. 

While members of the Yates oil family of Artesia have donated substantially to Republican Guv candidate Rebecca Dow, Harvey Yates, the politico of the family and who is naturally allied with Dow, has not given to her campaign. 

The omission is notable becaue Yates has been in the anti-Susana Martinez wing of the GOP, where Dow sits as well. Guv contender Mark Ronchetti is with the Martinez wing. 

Why is Yates holding back his ample wallet from Dow? Good question. The same one could be posed to politically active Roswell oilman Mark Murphy who for years has been on the same side of GOP politics as Yates. His name, too, is notably absent from Dow's recent finance report. 

Finally, Yates, a former NMGOP chairman, was identified here Monday as the current GOP national committeeman. He served in that capacity in the past but does not currently.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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