Feverish spending in NM CD2, with $12 million raised to date

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Courtesy of campaign websites

2nd Congressional District candidates Yvette Herrell, left, a Republican from Alamogordo, and Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat from Las Cruces.

Everyone knows by now that outside groups are spending big to influence the outcome of New Mexico’s southern congressional district. Republican Yvette Herrell and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small are campaigning to represent the district.

Getting a handle on how much cash is pouring in can be tricky. Fortunately, there are a couple important tools.

One, the Federal Elections Commission requires a lot more timely reporting of campaign finance data than does New Mexico. For federal races, like this one, campaign reports available online are being filed as this is written.

Two, ProPublica, a national nonprofit news organization, has created a tremendous resource for tracking money in federal elections that they humbly call their “election bot.” The bot collects campaign data and other information from a variety of sources and updates every 15 minutes.

Here’s the election bot landing page for the New Mexico CD2 race, which includes a list of outside spenders.

Torres Small has tripled Herrell’s fundraising, $3.8 million to $1.2 million. Outside groups have outstripped both combined, spending a little more than $7 million to date. (That’s $12 million total in the race for those keeping score, and we’re still days away from Election Day.  We’ll have to wait several weeks to see how much money people sink into the race once it’s all said and done.)

The CD2 race is rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, a respected national group that rates the prospects of candidates. That means it’s one of the campaigns that could determine which political party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. No surprise, then, that outside money is being dropped on southern New Mexico. The  biggest spenders are the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The DCCC has spent $1,796,427 and the NRCC has spent $1,513,748.

Here are the top ten outside spenders:

PrimaryGeneralTotalAs Of
DCCC$0$1,796,425$1,796,425Oct. 25
NRCC$0$1,513,748$1,513,748Oct. 30
Congressional Leadership Fund$0$737,169$737,169Oct. 24
Women Vote!$0$525,025$525,025Oct. 26
Environmental Defense Action Fund$0$322,070$322,070Oct. 29
AFT Solidarity$0$265,275$265,275Oct. 9
House Freedom Fund$4,500$192,248$196,748Oct. 27
LCV Victory Fund$0$171,204$171,204Oct. 23
Latino Victory Fund$0$128,030$128,030Oct. 30
Republican Women For Progress PAC$0$123,000$123,000Oct. 24

Needless to say, political advertising is in full swing. Here are some examples of the political advertising.

The NRCC has produced numerous television ads attacking Torres Small, with two recurring themes: health care and Nancy Pelosi.

Two of the ads, titled “Right Away” and “All,” say that the plan Torres Small supports would eliminate employer-based health coverage. Another ad titled “Golden Years” says that the plan she supports would “end Medicare as we know it.” The plan they are referring to is Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal for universal health care. In an interview with KRWG, Torres Small said her focus is on defending the current Affordable Care Act, and said she believed there are ways to ensure everyone is covered without having a single-payer system.

The other three ads by the NRCC attack Torres Small by saying she is a liberal activist who will be a “foot soldier for the radical left’s agenda,” and work with Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has given $4,000 to Torres Small, and the Pelosi-affiliated PAC to the Future has donated $10,000 to her.  Pelosi told the Albuquerque Journal that Torres Small is a priority for her. Torres Small said she has not decided whether she will vote for Pelosi for House Speaker if she wins the election, according to the Associated Press.

The DCCC has created several TV advertisements attacking Yvette Herrell. They focus on Herrell’s trustworthiness, highlighting her failure to disclose rental income her family’s company receives from the state, in annual disclosures required while she was a state representative.  

Two other big spenders, AFT Solidarity and Women Vote!, took up the same theme in their ad, “We Paid for it”. Herrell said she is a partner in name only of a real estate company owned by her father, and that the Secretary of State told her she didn’t need to disclose the rental income because she didn’t personally receive it.


Ximena Tapia is a 2018 academic Fellow at New Mexico In Depth. 

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