Some incumbent state Representatives are raising and spending big money to stave off competitors in the upcoming primaries. In other races, open seats are proving expensive for those seeking to replace legislators bowing out of another term at the Roundhouse.
The candidates filed campaign finance reports on Monday that showed their financial activity between April 3 and May 9.
Incumbents facing challengers in the primary
Once of the most-watched primaries is in House District 46 in northern New Mexico. Incumbent Carl Trujillo spent the most of any legislative candidate in his attempt to hold off former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities executive director Andrea Romero. Trujillo spent over $35,000, while Romero spent $9,100. Trujillo still has nearly $36,000 cash on hand, while Romero still has $28,100.
However, the Santa Fe-area race is getting increased attention because of allegations by a lobbyist that Trujillo sexually harassed her. Trujillo has denied the allegations, but some colleagues are calling for him to resign. He also faces a sexual harassment investigation from the Legislature, the first since the body’s new policy went into effect earlier this year.
Romero, meanwhile, did not return to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities after using public funds on baseball tickets and dinners. The organization did not put out a request for proposal for the position her contract expired. She repaid the money in full.
In the Albuquerque House District 13 primary, incumbent Democrat Patricia Roybal Caballero faces two Democratic opponents. No Republican filed to run in the heavily-blue district.
Robert Atencio had more cash on hand than Roybal Caballero, who has served in the House since 2013. Atencio has $5,700, Roybal Caballero, $5,500. However, Roybal Caballero outraised Atencio in the period and spent $5,000, while Atencio didn’t spend any money. Damion Cruzz has not yet filed his campaign finance report.
Another highly-watched race is in House District 41, where incumbent Democrat Debbie Rodella faces former Los Alamos National Laboratory CEO Susan Herrera. Rodella spent nearly $59,000 in the time period, nearly all of which went to Bridge Communications, a political campaign firm.
Herrera, meanwhile, spent $1,600 and has $14,600 cash on hand.
Open seats, contested primaries
Four open seats have potentially competitive primaries.
House District 43 is considered a swing district, and incumbent Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard opted to run for Commissioner of Public Lands instead of seeking a fourth term.
The two Democrats hoping to replace her are Los Alamos County Council vice chair Christine Chandler and Los Alamos County Councilor Peter Sheehey. Both have around the same amount of cash on hand, $3,400 for Chandler and $3,200 for Sheehey. But Chandler outraised and outspent Sheehey for the second straight reporting period.
Republican Lisa Shin, an optometrist, is unopposed in the primary and has $9,700 cash on hand.
In Republican-dominated House District 22 in Albuquerque, two Republicans are vying to replace James Smith, who vacated the seat after this year’s legislative session. A Democrat is unopposed in the primary.
UNM Hospital Dr. Gregg Schmedes, another Republican, has $13,300 cash on hand after spending $5,400 in the period. In the primary, he faces public relations specialist Merritt Allen, who spent $6,800—including a $5,000 loan to her campaign—and has $6,000 cash on hand.
Democrat Jessica Velasquez has $20,300 cash on hand.
In southern New Mexico’s House District 33, Democrat Bill McCamley chose to run for State Auditor instead of the House, leading three Democrats to try and fill his seat.
Young Women United research director Micaela Cadena led in fundraising, spending and cash on hand at the end of the period. She still has $16,900 after spending $6,800. Mary Martinez-White, a former Doña Ana County Treasurer and state DWI Drug Court coordinator, reported $8,900 cash on hand. She has loaned her campaign nearly $5,200. Artist Guenevere McMahon finished with $1,900 cash on hand, after spending nearly $4,500.
Charles Wendler, the lone Republican running for House District 33, did not file a campaign finance report but reported $840 cash on hand in his April report.
The winner of the house District 40 race will not face a Republican challenger. It will be the seat’s first new legislator in decades, as long-serving Democrat Nick Salazar retired after serving since 1973.
Engineer and former CEO of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Joseph L. Sanchez raised the most money, $22,600. He also spent $13,500 and has $17,200 cash on hand left. New Mexico Acequia Association executive director Paula Garcia has $10,700 cash on hand after spending $7,400 in the period. Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo has $3,000 cash on hand.
Correction: This story originally said Paula Garcia was the former executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. She is still the executive director.
This story also said Andrea Romero did not have her contract renewed because of the proposal. The organization did not put out a request for proposal after her contract renewed.