New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, emerged as a winner in the recent Democratic primary elections in the state.
Reform New Mexico Now, a PAC principally funded by two Artesia-based oil and gas companies, paid for messages supporting moderate Democrats likely to support her legislative agenda – and attacking progressive ones, as reported before the June 5 primary by NMPolitics.net.
The AP cited “Jay McCleskey, Martinez’s top political adviser” in stating that…
The “political action committee established by the governor’s supporters spent $100,000 on mailings and radio ads to influence the outcome in eight House and Senate Democratic primary races and succeeded in seven of those, according to McCleskey.”
“So-called super PACs can make independent expenditures in unlimited amounts in races but can’t coordinate their activities with the candidates,” the AP reported.
According to state campaign finance filings, Mack Energy Corp. and Chase Oil Corp. are the major contributors to the PAC.
Of the seven successful target victories, the one generating considerable buzz is House District 46, the seat held since 1975 by retiring Speaker Ben Lujan, encompassing parts of Santa Fe County. There, moderate candidate Carl Trujillo defeated well-known Santa Fe Mayor and progressive David Coss. As reported by NMPolitics.net, Reform New Mexico Now sent out mailers supporting Trujillo’s positions on education reform and slamming Coss, who was endorsed by Speaker Lujan and his son – U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.
Trujillo, who came within 84 votes of unseating Speaker Lujan in a 2010 primary, gave New Mexico Watchdog his take on how his insurgent “Campaign for Change” beat the odds:
“We worked hard. We talked to people. This campaign was about going out and listening, figuring out how to reconnect the people’s voice back in the Roundhouse. And, I think people answered to that.”
Trujillo, a Los Alamos researcher and small businessman, outraised his opponent $96,213 to $61,279. For his part, Coss, a former Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7037 president, tapped into union money and received $3,300 from Speaker Lujan’s personal PAC. With no Republican challenger in November and a June 26 deadline for any other candidates, Trujillo appears on track to be the next representative for the 46th District.
The one Democratic primary race where Reform New Mexico missed the mark was in opposing state Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon of Milan in District 6 – who won with 55% of the vote.