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Spending surges in New Mexico governor race

April 10, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic candidates for governor of New Mexico went on a spending spree of more than $2 million during the past six months as the sole Republican candidate stockpiled more cash than any other contender, according to campaign finance statements filed Monday with state regulators.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign for governor spent $1.2 million as it worked out of three offices in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and her home city of Albuquerque — while collecting contributions of $1.4 million.

Lujan Grisham is locked in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination in the state’s June primary election against former media executive Jeff Apodaca and state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of the Las Cruces area.

Cervantes injected $1 million of his own family money into his campaign in early April in the form of a loan from himself and wife Jennifer Cervantes, while collecting $54,000 from contributors over the past six months.

Apodaca, who has been running ads on cable and network TV since December, reported spending of roughly $628,000, while raising $254,000 from donors. Apodaca previously lent his campaign $450,000.

“Our game plan was not to hold onto the money and spend it in the last two or three weeks,” said Apodaca, the son of a governor in his first run for public office. “We’re focused on the primary.”

At the same time, Congressman Steve Pearce, the sole GOP contender, has appeared alongside Democrats at candidate forums and taken time away from Congress to travel the state.

His campaign spent just over $440,000, while setting aside nearly $2.1 million with its focus on the November general election — the largest cash stockpile among candidates.

Pearce’s state campaign account received an infusion of $784,000 in November — money the congressman raised and set aside before declaring his candidacy for governor. A judge cleared the transfer over initial objections by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Pearce raised an additional $862,000 from contributors over the past six months.

Contributors to Pearce’s congressional campaign account over the past decade include political committees run by Facebook, billionaire activists Charles and David Koch, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Allsup’s convenience stores founder Barbara Allsup.

Prominent contributors to the Lujan Grisham gubernatorial campaign include billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

Contributions that she listed on Monday poured in from thousands of individuals and committees linked to organized labor groups, minority U.S. House Leader Nancy Pelosi and a medical cannabis dispensary in Albuquerque.

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