Special interests still flock to incumbents in heated House primary races

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Incumbents in four state House races that will likely be decided in next week’s primary show significant special interest support in Thursday’s final campaign reports, which reflect their contributions for most of May.

If money tells anything about a political race, the reports also show two of the incumbents are being given a solid run for their seats. And while a third has an outsized bank account, her challenger has scooped up a lot more cash from individuals.

New Mexico In Depth previously looked at the financial advantage incumbents have due to special interest support in the four Democratic state house races:

District 41: State Rep. Debbie Rodella versus Susan Herrera
District 46: State Rep. Carl Trujillo versus Andrea Romero
District 13: State Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero versus Robert Atencio
District 34: State Rep. Bealquin Gomez versus Raymundo Lara

The reports filed Thursday capture most contributions in May, in the wake of explosive sexual harassment allegations against Trujillo and an increasingly negative campaign waged by Rodella. Meanwhile, oil and gas interests on one side and progressive groups on the other stirred themselves in what had been a relatively quiet Albuquerque race in Roybal Caballero’s district.

Here’s how the races break down in yesterday’s reports, looking at special interest versus individual donors. Contributions from current elected officials are counted as individuals. And this analysis does not include money spent independently of the campaigns by political action committees. See their fundraising prior to yesterday’s reports here. The primary election is on Tuesday, June 5.

District 41: State Rep. Debbie Rodella versus Susan Herrera

See Rodella’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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See Herrera’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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It’s no surprise that Rodella, now the longest serving member of the House and chair of the powerful Business and Industry Committee received dedicated support from a broad swath of industry groups, political action committees and registered lobbyists, who have given 89 percent of her contributions. Her challenger, Herrera, received one special interest contribution from a conservation group, but brought in many more individual contributions.

District 46: State Rep. Carl Trujillo versus Andrea Romero

See Trujillo’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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See Romero’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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Trujillo continues to gather significant support from individuals in his district, which is notable when compared to other incumbents, and with allegations of sexual harassment against him that made widespread news early in May. He also continued to bring in contributions from large corporations and PACs. But this is the one race of the four in which the challenger almost caught up in special interest support. Romero exceeded Trujillo in total fundraising in the final reporting period before the primary. Reflected in her report is support from progressive and labor groups, including public employee union AFSCME, Planned Parenthood, and Conservation Voters NM. She also continued to draw in support from tribes.

District 13: State Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero versus Robert Atencio

See Roybal Caballero’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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See Atencio’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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Is it possible that progressive special interest groups and elected officials woke up to the fact that incumbent Roybal Caballero might be in trouble? And did oil and gas companies all of a sudden realize they have an opportunity to boot Roybal Caballero from the Roundhouse? Yesterday’s campaign filings by these two candidates look a lot different from the second primary report filed in early May. Roybal Caballero shows big support from tribes, labor and other progressive groups, including AFSCME, Planned Parenthood, and Conservation Voters. And Atencio shows a $5,000 contribution from Devon Energy and a smaller one from Concho Resources. About half of Devon’s money would have to be dedicated to the general election, given contribution limits for state legislators.

District 34: State Rep. Bealquin Gomez versus Raymundo Lara

See Gomez’3rd Primary Campaign Report

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See Lara’s 3rd Primary Campaign Report

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Things have gotten a little sleepy in District 34. Gomez is still bringing in special interest money, including a large donation from Occidental Petroleum and several more agricultural companies. But his opponent’s fundraising has come to a standstill. That doesn’t mean Lara isn’t campaigning hard, though. He’s loaned himself $1,000.

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