In just three short weeks, Democrats across New Mexico will take a field of five gubernatorial contenders and abruptly narrow it to one.
It’s felt like a relatively low key race, one where the candidates have primarily stayed focused on themselves or attacking Governor Martinez. Intra-party campaign combat has been mostly absent to this point. As the contest enters its final days that could change, but a big driver of whether it will change could come down to who has the campaign ammo to make a statement (i.e. cash).
The latest campaign finances give us a big clue to not just money but momentum. And by that standard, there are really just two candidates in the field with either.
Money Raised Last Period: $116K
Money Spent Last Period: $100K
Closing Campaign Balance: $456K
If you’ve been following this race at all, you’re probably not surprised to see political outsider Alan Webber beating the field when it comes to dollars. The difference between this fundraising period and the last is that the $116K Webber brought in did not include a generous donation/loan from himself.
As the race’s outsider, Webber has had significant success in this part of his campaign. He’s also one of just two candidates on TV right now. Webber’s lone ad hit Martinez on her ties to the Koch Brothers. Whether Democrats will take to that focus is unclear, but getting his name out there is more important and he has more money to do that than any of the other contenders. That could bode well for a Webber win come June 3rd.
The big question remark remains whether his outsider status will help or hurt him at the polls.
Money Raised Last Period: $58K
Money Spent Last Period: $77K
Closing Campaign Balance: $210K
We turn from the race’s outsider to the race’s insider. Longtime administrator Lawrence Rael has had plenty of enthusiasm behind his campaign. That showed at the pre-primary convention. Although he finished just behind Webber in third place, Rael has appeared to gain momentum. In the money race, he is well behind Webber and well ahead of Howie Morales and the rest of the field at this stage.
But even with fewer funds, Rael has spent them more aggressively than Webber has to this point. Monday his campaign announced its second TV ad. That’s not a surprise as Rael was first to the punch when it came to buying TV time. He may not have as much ammo as Webber to sway voters in the final weeks, but with deeper ties to the state than his Missouri-born opponent… he may not need as much to be the Dem pick.
Money Raised Last Period: $12K
Money Spent Last Period: $53K
Closing Campaign Balance: $48K
Gary King may well be the party’s nominee after June 3, but if he is it will be due to his name and his name alone. King’s campaign has lagged in the money race and in the most recent period finished a distant fourth.
The attorney general’s camp has repeatedly pointed to a Public Policy Poll taken in mid-March showing he was well ahead of his Dem rivals. King’s political pedigree and name recognition are an undeniably huge part of that. But if that lead was accurately stated, King’s campaign has seemed to do little to keep it. No TV or radio ad presence yet and a fifth place finish at the Dem pre-primary convention plus the sluggish fundraising figures make a King win look unlikely.
But realizing he is still far better known than anyone else in the field and without a new poll showing anything different, it’s hard to say he’s not a contender either.
Money Raised Last Period: $22K
Money Spent Last Period: $27K
Closing Campaign Balance: $45K
If you’re not well known, you’d better have some money to change that. That’s the chief problem for Howie Morales right now. The state senator grabbed early momentum in the race by finishing first at the pre-primary convention.
However, the air appears to be going out of the balloon. While party insiders were excited by Morales, donors (especially big money donors) have not been. Morales was fourth in campaign spending and third in amount raised during the last period. Without any political advertising, increasing name ID is a big problem that’s only going to grow bigger if a lack of funds continues to keep Morales off the air. Grassroots only goes so far without the green.
Money Raised Last Period: $10K
Money Spent Last Period: $16K
Closing Campaign Balance: $14K
Sen. Lopez finished fourth at the pre-primary convention and has been consistently dead last in fundraising totals. Enough said.
But Don’t Forget
Money Raised Last Period: $562K
Money Spent Last Period: $553K
Closing Campaign Balance: $4.2M
Money isn’t everything, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Governor Martinez’s fundraising momentum has not slowed and she continues to build a sizable bank balance to take on whoever emerges in June.
Add all five Dem challengers together and the funds they raised this last period are less than half of what the governor brought in. She also has more than nine times what Webber has in her campaign account. Oh, and the DGA doesn’t consider this a race it wants to invest in at this stage.
The good news for Dems? They have the numbers (at least registered anyways) and the election is still a long way away.