With several months left until the general election, the two candidates running for Secretary of State seem to have two different strategies for how to spend—or not spend—campaign money.
In a press release Monday, Republican candidate Nora Espinoza’s campaign boasted that the campaign had more cash on hand than Democratic opponent Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
“Toulouse Oliver actually outraised Espinoza during the most recent reporting period, but spent almost all of what she raised,” the release read.
Toulouse Oliver, the current Bernalillo County Clerk, last reported having $125,000 on hand while Espinoza, an outgoing state representative from Roswell, last reported almost $160,000.
Espinoza’s campaign reported paying almost $3,000 to former Secretary of State employee Bobbi Shearer for consulting work in May, but has spent little since then.
In contrast, Toulouse Oliver’s campaign paid more than $17,000 in May to Full Arsenal Strategies for “prepayment of production services.” Toulouse also recently released three television campaign ads earlier this month.
Toulouse Oliver told NM Political Report that her campaign believes the general election began the day after the primary. Her ads were released the day after New Mexico’s primaries earlier this month.
“What we’re trying to do with these ads is really set the stage and the tone for what we’re going to be talking about in this campaign and getting out really early and letting folks know that we’re going to be running an aggressive campaign,” Toulouse Oliver said.
The ads do not mention Espinoza but they allude to former Secretary of State Dianna Duran who served jail time for misusing campaign money.
Espinoza’s press release did not mention any plans to air any ads. When NM Political Report called the number listed, an unidentified man said Espinoza was unavailable and suggested questions be emailed to her. NM Political Report sent an email asking about any future ad campaigns. We will add a response from Espinoza or her campaign when we receive one.
In the press release Espinoza’s campaign criticized Toulouse Oliver for previously accepting what is sometimes known as “dark money.”
“In 2014, Toulouse Oliver, who is a career campaign consultant, received $400,000 in ‘independent’ TV ads by groups related to Far-Left billionaire George Soros—groups associated with the criminal ‘ACORN’ organization that registered thousands of fraudulent voters from 2008-2012,” the release read.
Soros has long been a bogeyman for conservatives.
Dr. Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, told NM Political Report that she sees little advantage in Espinoza’s campaign saving cash at this point. She said there may be an advantage to saving money for later, but since Toulouse Oliver has already started spending, Espinoza ought to also.
“It’s really important for her to into the race as soon as possible,” Atkeson said. “We’re seeing someone who sort of lacks statewide campaign experience.”
Atkeson said even though Espinoza has been in the New Mexico legislature for almost ten years, she should let New Mexicans know who she is.
“It’s important for her that Nora is introducing herself to voters,” Atkeson said.
While Espinoza’s campaign boasted having a $31,000 “fundraising edge” over Toulouse Oliver, Atkeson said Espinoza should think about spending money now instead of waiting.
“You can’t really wait for the rainy day,” Atkeson said.