A federal PAC is coming to the aid of the state House Majority Leader, even as House Republicans seek to keep control of the state House. That’s the news from the Santa Fe New Mexican, which spoke to Mark Murphy, who is a major donor to GOAL-West PAC. GOAL-West PAC also received attention last year for trying to influence Las Cruces municipal elections. Now, the PAC is seeking to aid Republicans in state House races. Most are on the list of swing districts, like Andy Nuñez of Hatch in District 36 or Christina Hall of Albuquerque in an open seat in District 24.
A recount of some ballots in two Las Cruces city council districts confirmed the original results: Jack Eakman and Kasandra Gandara won their close races earlier this month.*
NM Political Report first reported earlier this month that those who lost wanted a recount. The recount found no changes to the official results that were confirmed days after the election. Eli Guzman, who lost in District 1, and Richard Hall, who lost to Eakman in District 4, sought a recall of five of the nine voting locations. Guzman and Hall asked for a recount of four voting convenience centers for election day voting and a fifth location that included early and absentee ballots. Las Cruces, like other cities throughout the state, uses voting convenience centers to allow voters to cast ballots at any of the locations throughout the city.
The big spending by a political action committee in the recent Las Cruces elections is receiving national attention. USA Today cited the spending by GOAL WestPAC in trying to defeat incumbent mayor Ken Miyagishima as one way that money is increasingly flooding into local elections. In New Mexico, the focus of the Goal WestPAC is “the economic and business climate” in the state, said Mark Murphy, the PAC’s chairman and president of Strata Production, an oil-and-gas exploration company in Roswell, N.M., about 180 miles northeast of Las Cruces. Murphy and his company also have donated $35,000 to the super PAC, records show. PAC officials decided to target Miyagishima and city politicians over what Murphy called a “history of overregulation and taxation,” including support for a 2013 gross receipts tax.
Las Cruces mayor Ken Miyagishima won a third term despite an out-of-town PAC pouring in tens of thousands of dollars to defeat him, according to unofficial election results. The progressives in the non-partisan elections also appeared to sweep the elections, with Kasandra Gandara and Jack Eakman pulling out narrow victories in high profile city council races. They joined District 2 incumbent Gregory Z. Smith in winning elections on Tuesday. The big story in the final days and weeks of the election was GOAL West PAC, a federal PAC funded mainly by southeast New Mexico residents with ties to the oil and gas industry, and their advertising blitz in an attempt to turn the race.
New Mexico’s second largest city will go to the polls Tuesday and will vote for the mayor and city councilors in three districts. The Las Cruces elections have featured more high profile campaigning–and much more mudslinging–than other recent local elections, including those in Albuquerque. Unlike Albuquerque’s recent elections, there are three contested districts and a mayoral race on the ballot this year. This may lead to Las Cruces bucking the trend of reduced voter turnout in New Mexico (though it isn’t a sure thing). Mayoral race
At the top of the ballot is the mayoral race where the top story is likely the massive amount of money that has been poured in by a federal PAC.