Please join us for a panel discussion with New Mexico experts about the influence of money on the 2018 election. In addition to the free event at Zimmerman library, we’ll be live streaming the event on our Facebook page. For more information, email [email protected].
New Mexico voters are sending the nation’s first Native American woman, Deb Haaland, to Congress. In what was arguably the hottest statewide race, voters also for the first time chose a woman, Stephanie Garcia Richard, to lead the State Land Office. And after electing the nation’s first Latina governor in 2010, voters again elected another Latina on Tuesday night, selecting Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham over Republican Steve Pearce to replace outgoing GOP Gov. Susana Martinez. That wasn’t all. Women appeared poised to take eight of 10 spots on the state’s second-most powerful court where females have never held a majority.
With Tuesday night coming to a close, it appeared Republican Yvette Herrell was heading toward victory in one of the state’s premier races. The 2nd Congressional District had been one of the races to watch, with the future control of the U.S. House hanging in the balance, but Democrats took control without needing the vast southern New Mexico district.
As of 11 p.m., Herrell was leading Xochitl Torres Small by about 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent in the race, with 355 out of 501 precincts reporting. Herrell gave a victory speech around 10:45 p.m., while Torres Small was mingling with the crowds at the Democratic watch party in Las Cruces awaiting final results from Doña Ana County. Observers long said the race could be a nail biter and it didn’t disappoint, with the margin between Herrell and Torres Small on Tuesday seemingly about who turned out more voters.
The TV and social media ads have all been placed. Mailboxes have no more room for political mailers. In these final days of Election 2018, everything now hinges on how many people vote in the race for the 2nd Congressional District of southern New Mexico — one of the most expensive in the state and which is garnering national attention and money because of its potential to shift power in the U.S. House. Who will win this decisive battle in a race rated a toss-up between Democrat Xochitl Torres Small or Republican Yvette Herrell? The answer likely lies with turn out.
It’s no surprise that candidates in New Mexico’s two hottest statewide races brought in the most money in October. Campaign reports were filed with the Secretary of State yesterday, and once again Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham left every other candidate in the dust when it came to fundraising, including her rival, Republican Steve Pearce. And in the race for state land commissioner, Republican Pat Lyons continued to have a slight edge over Democratic opponent Stephanie Garcia Richard. That said, while Lujan Grisham outstripped Pearce in fundraising, he spent almost as much in October. And numerous other statewide candidates and a swath of Court of Appeals candidates outspent Lyons and Garcia Richard.
Feel bombarded by political advertisements? There’s a good reason. Political action committees have spent $19.6 million this election cycle. Reports filed with New Mexico’s Secretary of State yesterday show a little under half of that — $8 million — has been spent just in the past month. Most of that is on advertising on television and radio, online and in your mailbox.
The countdown to Election Day has begun. With less than a week to go, nearly a quarter of New Mexico’s registered voters have already cast ballots. But that still leaves the vast majority of voters with decisions to make. For voters who place a high importance on education — and a September Albuquerque Journal poll found nearly seven in 10 New Mexicans consider the quality of public school education a “very serious” problem — New Mexico In Depth rounded our previous coverage about Republican Steve Pearce and Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stances on education, as well as other outlets’ coverage to see if they expanded on or modified their views on the state’s education problems as their campaigns have progressed. Early childhood education
This area in the one where the two candidates have shown the starkest differences.
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.
During an election year, the public — including University of New Mexico students — is bombarded with political advertising, online, television radio, in the mail, or over the phone.
The messages are easy to understand: stay away from — or vote for — this person. Less easy is tracking contributions for advertising, because in the current system donors are able to obscure their identities through so-called “dark money.”
This article was published by both New Mexico In Depth and the Daily Lobo at the University of New Mexico. Anthony Jackson is a Fellow for NM in Depth and a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted on Twitter: @TonyAnjacksonDark money is untraceable contributions that can come from unions, corporations, nonprofits or any group registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(4) and also 501(c)(6) to make it more complex. Donations from these groups can go directly to candidates or to political groups.
One of the stories that’s emerged during the 2018 election is a surge of online small donors crossing state lines to power insurgent Democratic candidates who the party hopes will lead to a takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives. One of those campaigns is in southern New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district. Democratic candidate Xochitl Torres Small has built a war chest that includes significant small donor support in a race against Republican Yvette Herrell that the Cook Political Report has rated a “toss-up.”
But Torres Small and other Democratic congressional candidates aren’t the only ones benefiting. New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham’s small donor contributions reported with a month left in the campaign have notably outpaced not just her rival, Republican Steve Pearce, but also candidates in the last two gubernatorial campaigns. And a much larger share of her small donations, those that are $200 or less, come from outside New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham’s ability to rake in so many small donors from other states may say less about her positions and more about her ability to tap a national network of Democratic small donors giving small amounts, often multiple times.