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Energy companies give generously to San Juan County Republicans
James Strickler, Paul Bandy are leading local recipients
FARMINGTON — Between 24 percent and 50 percent of the donations made to incumbent San Juan County state representatives in the most recent reporting period came from energy companies, including Tesoro, Exxon Mobile, ConocoPhillips and Chevron.
A total of $3,900 of the $7,800 that Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, raised during the most recent reporting period came from energy companies. Out of the four San Juan County incumbent state representatives, Strickler saw the largest percentage of his donations come from energy companies. Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, had the smallest percentage, as $1,400 of the $5,825 she raised between Sept. 4 and Oct. 1 — about 24 percent — came from energy companies.
Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, also received $3,900 from energy companies, which comprised 48 percent of his donations during the most recent reporting period. He is running against San Juan County Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Schildmeyer for the House District 3 seat.
Schildmeyer raised $1,232 during the most recent reporting period. Nearly 50 percent of her donations between Sept. 4 and Oct. 1 — $607 — came from the San Juan County Democratic Party.
Rep. Rodney Montoya, R-Farmington, received $900 from energy companies, which was 34 percent of his total donations during the most recent reporting period. Montoya is running unopposed in the upcoming election.
Many of Strickler’s donors are energy companies. Strickler said the main industries in San Juan County are oil, gas and coal.
"They expect us to be an advocate for all the employees they have out here," he said.
Donors give to unopposed candidate to circumvent campaign donation caps
Strickler, who is running unopposed in this year's election, will have one primary expenditure for his campaign this election cycle — cards that his campaign is mailing encouraging people to vote.
While he will only be spending a small amount of his funds on his own campaign, Strickler raised $7,800 in the last campaign finance reporting period, which was due Monday. The period covers Sept. 4 through Oct. 1. The next campaign finance reports are due Nov. 1.
The majority of the money Strickler raised has gone to the campaigns of other state representatives.
Strickler explained that some donors want to give more money to particular candidates but are limited by the donation cap. Those donors often donate money to unopposed candidates like Strickler, and the unopposed candidates are then free to donate money to other campaigns.
He said the donors are not permitted to tell him how to spend the money they give him, but he usually chooses to give it to the campaigns of other state representatives.
Strickler’s most recent donations went to two Republican candidates — Robert Godshall and Gregg Schmedes. Both candidates are seeking to take the place of former GOP incumbents. Godshall, of Albuquerque, is running for the seat of District 27 Rep. Larry Larrañaga, who died earlier this week. Schmedes, of Tijeras, was appointed by the governor to the vacant House District 22 seat after winning the Republican nomination for the seat in the June primary. Rep. Jim Smith accepted an appointment to the Bernalillo County Commission in March and vacated the District 22 seat.
Allison steps up fundraising
The Democratic candidate for the House District 4 seat, Anthony Allison, has trailed incumbent Clahchischilliage in fundraising since he began campaigning. But in the most recent reporting period, he experienced more success. Allison raised more than $20,000 during September, bringing the total amount he has raised to nearly $38,000.
He still trails the Republican incumbent, who raised $21,000 during the first general election reporting period and has raised more than $58,000 since she began campaigning.
However, the discrepancy in their expenditures is much smaller than in their fundraising. Allison has spent $27,000 since he launched his campaign while Clahchischilliage has spent about $37,800.
Democrats hope to retain the majority in the state House of Representatives
The Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives in 2016 after the Republicans served as the majority for the preceding two years.
Strickler does not anticipate the Republicans reclaiming the majority in the House this year. He said the midterm elections tend to give a turnout advantage to the party that lost the presidential bid two years earlier.
"The national (outlook) kind of dictates the tone at the state level," Strickler said.
Voting begins statewide at county clerk’s office
Early voting began this week at county clerks’ offices throughout the state. In the first few days of voting, 162 registered Democrats and 342 registered Republicans cast ballots at the San Juan County clerk’s office in Aztec, according to numbers from the Secretary of State's Office. A total of 554 people cast ballots early during the first few days of voting at the San Juan County clerk’s office.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.