County GOP schedules Trump ads; judicial races dominate airwaves

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will be featured in TV ads in New Mexico, national media outlets reported recently.

But thus far, the Quay County Republican Party is the only buyer of such ads.

The county party reserved 136 cable ads through two sales orders (here and here) at a cost of $804 on cable TV to air from Oct. 17 to Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, candidates for state Supreme Court and appeals court are the primary buyers of political air time this fall, according to Federal Communications Commission filings.

Democrat appellate justice Michael Vigil is slated to spend nearly $122,000 on ads as he tries to unseat incumbent Republican Supreme Court Justice Judith Nakamura, who is spending $90,000. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Nakamura to the bench last fall; Vigil was a finalist.

Meanwhile, Democrat Julie Vargas is spending nearly $83,000 on ads in her effort to unseat Appeals Court Justice Stephen French, appointed by Martinez earlier this year. French is slated to spend more than $68,000 on TV ads.

Appointed justices must stand for reelection in the first election after their appointment. Their campaigns are publicly funded.

Meanwhile, the Center for Civic Action is airing an ad through Oct. 18 that criticizes the Martinez administration for failing to hire more child protection workers.

The Center for Civic Action is a “social welfare” nonprofit that may spend up to half its money on politics without being required to disclose its donors. Because the ad is not aimed at anyone running for office, TV stations don’t have to disclose details about the ads.

But three stations disclosed more than $32,000 in contracts with the group.

Here’s a look at the advertisers and spending scheduled from Sept. 28 through Election Day.

Then there are the Trump ads, which are booked under the name of the Quay County Republican Party.

Unlike many other county parties in New Mexico, the Quay County Republicans aren’t registered as a political action committee with the Secretary of State. State law requires any group that spends more than $500 on advertising in a year to register as a political action committee.

Quay County GOP chairman Jeff Byrd told NMID last week the ad plans weren’t firmed up.

“We have talked about it, we haven’t written a check or anything,” Byrd said.

And documents filed with Comcast Spotlight for the ads list Curry County GOP chairman Rube Render as the buyer.

Render told NMID that the party planned to air TV ads encouraging voters to support Republican candidates, but not ads specifically supporting Trump.

The Curry County Republican Party had more than $4,500 in the bank in its most recent campaign report.

The required description of the ads says they will support the GOP ticket of Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice presidential candidate.

Airing the ads also would trigger a Federal Election Commission requirement to file a notice of independent expenditure in the presidential race. No such expenditures have been filed with the FEC for New Mexico since mid-June.

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