The latest campaign finance reports provided fresh evidence of the high-stakes efforts by Democrats and Republicans to influence the general election races that will determine which party controls the House and Senate when the Legislature convenes next year. Democrats hold majorities in both legislative chambers, but Republicans picked up seats in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.
The Committee on Individual Responsibility, which is affiliated with the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association, raised $111,185 since July and spent nearly $198,880, nearly all of that on legislative candidates and contributions to Democratic-leaning campaign groups. It reported a cash balance of $63,513 as of last week.
A "super PAC" formed by supporters of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez raised $281,100 and spent about $80,328. It had $305,030 cash on hand.
Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said Monday that Reform New Mexico Now is targeting two dozen legislative races and will support candidates backing the governor's agenda, including a new evaluation system for teachers and stopping the state from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The PAC received $250,000
PACs such as Reform New Mexico Now can make independent expenditures in campaigns and collect donations in unlimited amounts.
Monday was the deadline for filing campaign finance reports with the secretary of state's office.
A political committee established by the governor, Susana PAC, raised $27,669 and spent $105,718, with nearly half of that for mailings promoting the governor's agenda and to support the re-election of District Attorney Amy Orlando in Dona Ana County. Martinez stepped down as district attorney after becoming governor and she appointed Orlando as her successor.
The governor's PAC and the political group tied to the trial lawyers are subject to state limits on contributions because they donate money directly to candidate. A federal judge has ruled that New Mexico's campaign contribution restrictions could not be applied to independent expenditure groups.
Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP.