Top State PACs in the 2012 Election
By Russell Page
SUSANA PAC: Gov. Susana Martinez’s PAC has raised more than a million dollars since it was created in 2011. Run by Martinez’ chief political adviser, Jay McCleskey, the PAC will use its funds to support the campaigns of legislative candidates sympathetic to the governor’s agenda. During the primaries, SUSANA PAC supported the efforts of Republican candidates with limited success.
Reform New Mexico Now: Reform New Mexico Now is also tied to Martinez. After the PAC intervened in eight Democratic primary contests supporting moderates over progressives, it was revealed that McCleskey was behind it all. Created less than a month before the primary, Reform raised more than $200,000, including $180,000 from two Artesia-based oil companies.
ActBlue New Mexico: ActBlue is a national political organization that supports Democratic candidates and committees at every level. It describes itself as “the online clearinghouse for Democratic action.” Through the primaries, the organization helped various New Mexico Democrats raise $178,000 in online contributions.
Republican Campaign Committee of New Mexico: In 2010, this PAC spent $1.5 million to aid Gov. Martinez and Republican legislative candidates in their bids for the Roundhouse. Expect the PAC to work hand in hand with the guv in her quest to reshape the Legislature this year.
GO Bonds for Education: The private fundraising arm of New Mexico’s colleges and universities uses this PAC to promote bonds for campus improvements. In 2010, GO Bonds for Education spent more than $300,000 running ads supporting higher education bond projects. New Mexicans voted “no” on that bond measure 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent. The state’s universities will try to pass another bond measure in the fall.
Democratic Party of New Mexico: Although registered Dems outnumber Republicans in New Mexico, DPNM hasn’t raised as much as its GOP counterparts. In 2010, this PAC spent around $900,000 to help Democratic candidates.
Ben Lujan Speaker Fund: Heading into the 2012 election cycle, Democrats hold a slight lead over Republicans in the state Legislature. It’s split 36-33, with one independent also in the mix. That gap used to be wider, but 2010 saw gains for Republicans. The Ben Lujan Speaker Fund aims to preserve the Dem lead, along with other smaller PACs concentrating on House races. Lujan is the speaker of the House and has been since 2001. At the start of this year’s session, he announced he will not seek re-election due to health concerns.
Verde Voters PAC: The independent expenditures branch of Conservation Voters New Mexico, Verde has already raised $100,000 to spend on mailers, canvassing and phone calls supporting pro-environment candidates. Verde Voters got involved in the Democratic primaries, sending out attack ads against incumbents with Earth-befouling agendas.
Committee on Individual Responsibility: The New Mexico Trial Lawyer’s Association runs this PAC, which almost always supports Democratic candidates. CIR spent more than $300,000 in 2010, including a $50,000 donation to ex-Lt. Gov. Diane Denish’s failed gubernatorial bid. The association supports candidates who aim to create more access to trial by jury and will fight against tort reform.
New Mexico Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee: Tasked with supporting Democratic candidates for the Legislature, this PAC always spends big on mailers. It shelled out more than $500,000 in 2010 and will look to spend more in House and Senate races in 2012 to combat SUSANA PAC and Reform New Mexico Now.
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