December 7, 2018

Candidates report spending in high-dollar elections

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Both federal and state candidates filed campaign finance reports this week, showing how much they spent on their races this year. The reports showed several very high-cost races.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham spent nearly twice as much as her Republican opponent on the way to her victory in last month’s elections, and spending by the two exceeded $14 million.

In all, Lujan Grisham spent over $9.5 million, while Steve Pearce spent just under $4.9 million. Lujan Grisham’s total includes money spent during a primary, which she easily won, while Pearce didn’t face a Republican opponent.

The campaign finance reports for statewide candidates, which were due Thursday, covered the races through Dec. 1.

Lujan Grisham wasn’t the only Democrat to outspend their opponent on the way to victory. Every Democrat running for statewide office except one, Stephanie Garcia Richard in the race for State Land Commissioner, outspent their opponents. Every statewide Democrat won this year.

Garcia Richard’s campaign finance report was not available on the Secretary of State’s campaign website as of Friday. The deadline to file the report was midnight on Thursday.

Besides the two candidates for governor, only two other statewide candidates spent more than $500,000 in the 2018 election cycle: Republican Land Commissioner candidate Pat Lyons and Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Federal races

The 2nd Congressional District race proved to be the second-most-expensive congressional race in state history. And much of that money came from Democratic candidate Xochitl Torres Small, who won the conservative leaning district.

Over the course of the campaign, Torres Small spent over $4.4 million, compared to the $1.2 million spent by her Republican opponent, Yvette Herrell. Groups outside of the campaign, such as PACs, spent over $7.1 million in the race.

Only the 2006 congressional race between Republican incumbent Heather Wilson and then-Attorney General Patricia Madrid, a Democrat, exceeded the total spending.

In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich far-exceeded his two opponents, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Republican Mick Rich. Heinrich spent over $7.8 million, while Rich spent $960,000 and Johnson spent just $392,000. Johnson, a former governor and Libertarian nominee for president, donated over $100,000 to his campaign.

Democrats also outspent their opponents in the two non-competitive congressional races. In the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District, Debra Haaland spent over $2 million, including on a primary campaign which included a large field, to Republican Janice Arnold-Jones’ $317,000.

In the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Ben Ray Lujan spent over $2.2 million. Neither of his opponents filed final reports, but had not previously spent over $10,000.