A federal super PAC fueled by New Mexico oil and gas interests is taking aim at the Las Cruces mayoral race and two city council seats.
GOAL WestPAC is sending mailers opposing incumbent Mayor Ken Miyagishima and supporting challenger Miguel Silva. The PAC hasn’t registered with the city of Las Cruces, but is expected to.
The political action committee is based in College Station, Texas. Its treasurer is Philip Pearce, brother of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican who represents southern and eastern New Mexico.
“New Mexico is where we’re from, we care about the future of New Mexico,” said Burly Cain, the PAC’s executive director.
Through the first six months of this year, GOAL West raised $45,000 from three individuals and two companies in Hobbs, Artesia, Roswell and Carlsbad. The group spent nearly $22,000 in the first six months on advertising, accounting, polling and legal fees.
One mailer sent by the group asks, “Lipstick on a pig? The true story of Las Cruces Mayor Miyagishima DOESN’T want you to know?” It notes that Las Cruces is one of the poorest cities in the nation.
Another says that Silva will protect city taxpayers.
The fliers list a Hobbs post office box as a return address.
The political action committee says on its website it supports “candidates who support common-sense solutions that create jobs and strengthen our economy.”
On a separate web page for next week’s Las Cruces municipal elections, the PAC criticizes the city’s economy and features a video about how raising the minimum wage hurts low-income workers. A divided City Council voted in 2014 to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.40 in January, $9.20 in January 2017 and $10.10 in January 2019.
The website also endorses Eli Guzman over Kasandra Gandara in City Council District 1 and Richard Hall over Jack Eakman in District 4.
Voters may not learn what GOAL West is spending until after the election.
Interim City Clerk Linda Lewis said the group reached out to her on Oct. 16 and she sent them registration documents the following Monday, which she estimated were received Oct. 21. The PAC has 10 days to complete and return the documents, which she estimated would be late this week or sometime next week.
“There’s a process that’s in place with the law that we’re following,” said Cain of GOAL West.
Last fall, GOAL West aired TV ads supporting Republican state House candidates. The group may have spent money on mailers or other campaign expenses in New Mexico, but state law does not require disclosure of outside independent expenditures.
This post was updated to correct information about Las Cruces’ minimum wage ordinance.