With a big gubernatorial race on tap in 13 months, two high-profile candidates reported Monday each bringing in more than $1 million in contributions in the last six months. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced raising nearly $1.4 million since her last campaign finance report in April. The campaign finance period was between between April 4 and October 2. Lujan Grisham’s campaign reported these came from nearly 6,500 contributors. Lujan Grisham’s campaign reported these came from nearly 6,500 contributors.
A national outlet says New Mexico has a very good chance of flipping from a Republican governor to a Democratic one. In fact, National Journal predicted this week that New Mexico is the second-most likely state to elect a governor from a different party than the incumbent in the coming year. Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, cannot run for a third consecutive term because of term limits. From National Journal (story is behind a paywall): Martinez’s favorability has faded as the economy stagnates in the Democratic-trending state. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former state Cabinet official backed by EMILY’s List, is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and general election next year.
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce announced Monday that he is running for governor. Pearce becomes the first Republican to announce a run for the position and is taking his third crack at a statewide office after previously losing in two U.S. Senate races.A launch video highlights his time in New Mexico, since a child, and his pledge to help the state recover from its economic problems.
“My commitment is that I’ll work hard every day, bringing jobs back to the state, fixing a broken education system and relieving the poverty that we know is possible to relieve,” Pearce says in the video. Pearce reiterated those points in a press call Monday afternoon. He called it “heartbreaking” that New Mexico is at the bottom of so many lists and asserted that New Mexico has everything it needs to be successful but “we just need to manage it better.”
Management, and his business experience, is something Pearce touched on repeatedly, including when talking about education. Pearce said he wanted to move decision-making closer to the district and classroom level.
Joseph Cervantes is the fourth Democrat to declare a 2018 run for governor. An attorney with a background in architecture, Cervantes has served in the state legislature representing Las Cruces for 16 years, first in the House of Representatives before winning an election in the Senate in 2013. Cervantes is considered a moderate Democrat from his time in the Legislature. He even once attempted to oust then-Speaker Ben Lujan with a coalition of Republicans and some Democrats. NM Political Report caught up with Cervantes just days into his campaign office to speak about how he wants to approach the state’s highest political office.
New Mexico’s gubernatorial race is trending blue according to a prominent news outlet that analyzes elections. The Cook Political Report changed its ratings for eight gubernatorial elections Monday, moving New Mexico and four other states toward Democrats, two states closer to Republicans and one away from an independent. New Mexico was moved from a toss up to “Lean D.” According to the outlet’s rating system, “lean” races “are considered competitive races but one party has an advantage” while toss ups “are the most competitive races; either party has a good chance of winning.”
New Mexico is one of two races with current Republican governors where the race is likely to tilt Democratic. New Jersey, with unpopular Gov. Chris Christie leaving, is considered “likely D,” which means it is not currently competitive but could become so at some point. Gov. Susana Martinez is unable to run for a third consecutive term.
A poll by a Republican pollster finds that Democratic candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham leads Steve Pearce in a hypothetical matchup—but also that there are still a large number of undecided voters. The poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group in late May, found that when the two U.S. Representatives are matched up against each other, Lujan Grisham leads Pearce 47 percent to 43 percent with 10 percent undecided. The Tarrance Group lists Pearce as a former client on its website, though the polling memo does not indicate who paid for the poll. Notably, the firm polled for the Republican in 2010, when he successfully ran against Harry Teague to retake the 2nd Congressional District seat. Pearce left the seat in 2008 to run for U.S. Senate.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Tuesday that he will not run for governor next year, ending months of speculation. Balderas, a Democrat, made the announcement in a statement to media where he highlighted work he has done in his first term as attorney general. “It has been an honor to serve New Mexico and I plan on running for re-election next year in order to continue to fight for our state,” he said. In addition to mentioning prosecuting “more than 100 cases of internet crimes against children and human trafficking” and recovering more than $6 million in Medicaid fraud cases in 2016, Balderas noted his more recent efforts against the Trump administration. “Since the November election, my office has a new responsibility—to stand up for New Mexico against President Trump,” Balderas said.
Another New Mexico Democrat announced his run for governor. Peter DeBenedittis issued a press release Monday detailing his campaign platform. One major point DeBenedittis highlighted in his announcement is that he is a political outsider. “Year after year we’ve seen Democrats talk like they really want to help people during the primaries, then they run to the center for the general election,” DeBenedittis said. “And then if they win, many completely forget what they’ve campaigned on.”
Last year, DeBenedittis gained some attention with his campaign to raise state alcohol taxes to increase state revenue.
The son of a former New Mexico governor announced his plans Tuesday to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive and son of former Gov. Jerry Apodaca, told NM Political Report he wants to “turn New Mexico around” in early childhood development, job creation and health care. “I’m not running because of any legacy,” Apodaca said. If elected, Apodaca, a Democrat, said he would work to diversify New Mexico’s economy so the state is less dependant on oil and gas. Not only could New Mexico use wind and solar power for its own purposes, Apodaca said, but the state could power other states using renewable energy sources.
U.S Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham reported raising nearly $900,000 since announcing her candidacy for governor in December. The reports came in the first mandated campaign finance filings since she announced she would leave her congressional seat to run for governor of New Mexico. Gov. Susana Martinez is term-limited and cannot run for a third-consecutive term. So far, Lujan Grisham is the first major candidate to announce she will run for the position. Lujan Grisham also spent over $150,000, including $31,719.35 to the Washington D.C.-based Anne Lewis Strategies.