Secretary of State Candidate Nora Espinoza recently appeared in two promotional videos for a group closely associated with the Church of Scientology that is critical of prescription drug companies. Months later, Espinoza received a large campaign contribution from a pharmaceutical company that clashed with the controversial religious group in the past. This February, the Church of Scientology released a video featuring Espinoza praising the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)—an organization founded by the Church of Scientology—for helping her pass legislation in 2015 prohibiting schools and school officials from coercing students into taking medication. In the video, Espinoza discussed how CCHR helped her pass HB 53, which Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law. “We drafted it, we worked together with it, to make sure that it was an excellent legislation,” Espinoza said.
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.
No time to rest after the primaries for some politicians. The day after Democrats and Republicans went to the polls to choose nominees for county, legislative, statewide and federal races, one statewide candidate is already announcing a “media blitz” of paid advertisements. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced three new TV ads that will air on broadcast TV as well as cable and satellite for her Secretary of State campaign. Two ads are English-language and one is Spanish. The ads focus on ethics in politics—no surprise since the last Secretary of State went to jail for misusing campaign funds.
Democratic Secretary of State candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver leads in the latest campaign finance reports, though her Republican opponent Nora Espinoza closes the period out with more cash in her campaign account. The primary takes place next Tuesday. Toulouse Oliver raised nearly $59,590 during the latest period, which covers most of May, nearly doubling Espinoza’s $29,807. She also spent $46,858 during the same period, the bulk of her expenses going to Full Arsenal Strategies, the strategy firm that is managing her campaign. Toulouse Oliver currently reports $125,030 in the bank.
Over 600 Republicans gathered for what on its face would be a non-controversial, easy convention on Saturday. The Republican presidential primary is all but over, there are very few primaries for Republicans in legislative races (and none involving incumbents) and the party has already coalesced behind the three statewide candidates. But the increasingly ugly race for the position of Republican National Committeeman between veteran Republican politicos Pat Rogers and Harvey Yates took center stage. It also turned out not to be very close. Yates easily won election to the position on a 278 to 195 vote.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver leads State Rep. Nora Espinoza in the race for Secretary of State. That’s according to results from a poll of likely New Mexico voters by Public Policy Polling, commissioned by NM Political Report. Toulouse Oliver, the lone Democrat, has the support of 43 percent of voters. Espinoza, the lone Republican, has the support of 36 percent of voters. There are still 21 percent who say they aren’t sure who they will vote for this November.
New Mexico candidates and political action committees filed reports Monday of contributions and spending from April 5 through May 2. Here’s a quick look at that month’s worth of reporting. This piece originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth. Candidates for secretary of state top the list of fundraisers for the reporting period, with Republican Nora Espinoza leading Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver, followed by several legislative candidates. Here are the top 15 candidates:
Toulouse Oliver leads all candidates in spending for the past month at nearly $31,000.
In the rare presidential-year Secretary of State’s race, the Democratic candidate raised more money and has more cash on hand at the end of the most recent filing period. Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the county clerk from Bernalillo, raised $189,931.20 in the time period from Oct. 6, 2015 to April 4, 2016. The Republican candidate, state Rep. Nora Espinoza, raised $72,431 in that same time period. Toulouse Oliver spent much more money, $84,769.31.
Friday marked the final day to challenge filing documents for candidates around the state ahead of the June primaries. In all, the reasons for ten disqualifications for candidates range from simply not getting enough signatures to breaking campaign finance rules. Amy Bailey, legal counsel for the Secretary of State’s office, told NM Political Report that her office went through any evidence brought to them before each candidate was qualified. “The candidates that brought us what they purported to be evidence we checked,” Bailey said. “We didn’t go through and check all the petitions.”
Prospective candidates who found themselves disqualified still have a chance to challenge the disqualification, but they must file a challenge it in district court.
A bill that would change the rate of pay for some state funded public works projects passed the House on a 35-32 vote on Tuesday night after a three hour debate. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, said her bill would save the state money by allowing the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to determine wages for publicly funded school and highway construction projects . House Democrats took most of the allotted debate time to speak out against the bill, citing lower wages if the bill becomes law. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, said the cost saving would come at the cost of lower wages for workers. “One thing is going to happen if this bill is passed,” McCamley said.