Legislature passes campaign finance reform years in the making

It’s now up to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez whether New Mexico’s campaign finance disclosure laws will be modernized. The Senate agreed to House amendments to Senate Bills 96 and 97 Tuesday. The House approved the two measures Monday night. SB 96 has the greater impact, aiming for more disclosure from independent spending groups during campaigns. But it also doubles the donation limits for legislators to $5,000 for each primary and general election cycle.

Out-of-state money dominates giving for biggest PACs

New Mexico political action committees raised $16.5 million and spent nearly $15.8 million from 2015 through Dec. 3. Leading the way were GOP super PAC Advance New Mexico Now and Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority New Mexico, with both groups targeting key legislative races. Advance still had $284,000 in cash left as of Dec. 3, money that could have been spent in its efforts to help Republicans retain control of the state House.

Secretary of State race tops $1 million

Fundraising and spending in the special election for secretary of state topped $1 million. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, was sworn in Friday to replace interim Secretary of State Brad Winter. She defeated Republican Rep. Nora Espinoza, of Roswell, with 56 percent of the vote in the November election. Toulouse Oliver outraised Espinoza $751,027 to $364,440, and outspent the Republican $740,052 to $353,924. The Democrat received 6,413 individual donations averaging $117 each to Espinoza’s 975 donations averaging $374 each.

Mapping the election: NM Legislature results

Democrats took back the House and increased their hold over the state Senate last week. That’s despite the loss of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to Republican Greg Baca, which GOP Gov. Susana Martinez declared a major victory. Come January, the House majority will switch from 37-33 in favor of Republicans to at least 37-33 in the Democrats’ favor. That margin could increase to as high as 39-31, depending on the outcome of two recounts in the Albuquerque area. Here’s a look at the seats that switched or might switch:

House District 36: Las Cruces Democrat Nate Small defeated incumbent Rep. Andy Nunez with 56.5 percent of the vote to 43.5 percent of the vote.

New Mexico PACs bring in big bucks

New Mexico political action committees have raised nearly $15.8 million and spent more than $14 million in the two years leading up to Tuesday’s election. Those PACs have bought TV and radio ads, sent mailers, paid for robocalls and polls. New Mexico In Depth analyzed fundraising and spending for 2015 and 2016 through Nov. 1 for state-registered PACs. Excluded were the two state party committees; Act Blue, a conduit PAC for donations to candidates; and South-Central PAC, a union group that only sends money to a parent group in Washington, D.C.

Advance New Mexico Now, a super PAC operated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s top advisers, is the top money raiser and spender.

GOP super PAC takes on Senate leader Sanchez on TV

Advance New Mexico Now will spend more than $125,000 on TV advertising in its effort to unseat Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. The ads begin Sunday on at least two Albuquerque stations, KOB and KOAT, and air through early November, based on contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission on Friday. Meanwhile, Sanchez is airing more than $120,000 in ads on four Albuquerque stations through Election Day. His ads began Wednesday, Oct. 17.