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Lujan Grisham has $1.1M fundraising haul in a month

October 9, 2018

With less than a month left in the race to become New Mexico’s next governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to wallop Steve Pearce in fundraising — though the Republican Pearce maintains an ace in the hole for the final stretch with a sizable advantage in cash on hand.

Lujan Grisham, the Democratic nominee, raised more than $1.1 million over the past month, says her latest campaign finance report, filed Monday afternoon, including large donations from solar companies, labor unions and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

Pearce raised less than half that, roughly $417,000, a sum that included hefty contributions from Koch Industries, a top conservative donor, and the political action committee of the National Rifle Association.

Pearce spent more than $1 million over the one-month reporting period, his most expensive stretch of the campaign to date, while Lujan Grisham spent more than $1.6 million. Both candidates’ expenditures were dominated by advertisements.

But Pearce retains his stash of cash on hand. His war chest for final four weeks of the race, $1.25 million, outstrips Lujan Grisham’s by almost half a million dollars.

On the whole, Lujan Grisham has raised $7.8 million and spent a little more than $7 million in her bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez, including a primary election contest earlier this year in which the Albuquerque congresswoman soundly defeated two challengers.

Pearce, meanwhile, was unopposed for the Republican nomination. His gubernatorial campaign has raised $4.3 million in total and spent $3.1 million — though a significant chunk of what Pearce’s campaign has reported came in the form of a money transfer from his congressional war chest.

The Pearce campaign last year won a court battle with the Secretary of State’s Office over the legality of transferring funds raised originally for another office and has infused $784,000 from what he had raised as a member of Congress into his bid for governor — as well as $133,283 from the state to reimburse him for legal fees stemming from the court case.

The money from the campaign transfer makes up more than a fifth of what the Pearce campaign has reported raising overall.

But, to be sure, these reports provide an incomplete picture of who is spending money to influence the race for governor.

Political action committees and social welfare organizations — so-called “dark money” groups — are spending big, too.

On Friday, Save the Children Action Network reported it would spend more than $415,000 to support Lujan Grisham’s campaign for governor — a whopping sum for any one group even by the standards of this high-dollar election.

Lujan Grisham spent some $927,000 on media advertisements, almost $104,000 on mailers, $67,000 on radio ads and a little under $20,000 on polling.

Her campaign reported 55 contributions of at least $5,000, including donations from the pro-choice group Emily’s List, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the campaign committee of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján. The maximum donation to any one statewide candidate in one election cycle is $5,500.

Political action committees that donated directly to Lujan Grisham included $1,000 from Giddy Up PAC, formed by Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and $4,000 from a committee operated by Microsoft.

Pearce’s expenditures included at least $850,000 on advertising and “media production.”

Pearce received 24 contributions of at least $5,000, including those from the Political Victory Fund of the NRA, several ranchers and dairy producers and state Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences.

The $5,500 donation from Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries was misspelled “Kock” on the finance report filed Monday afternoon.

Political action committees donating directly to Pearce included the Farmington-based Four Corners Federated Republican Women, which gave $2,000, and $1,500 from Beef PAC, the political arm of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

“As Steve Pearce makes his closing argument to voters he is well positioned to win in November and lead the state to a better future,” Pearce campaign manager Paul Smith said in a statement.

Lujan Grisham, in a statement, said the “positive energy” of her campaign was resonating.

“I’m thrilled to see continued momentum and support from thousands of donors, volunteers and voters across New Mexico,” she said.

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Andrew Oxford contributed reporting.

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