DA race one of the most expensive in the state; legislative donations reveal Democratic divisions

June 1 – The race for the first judicial district attorney is shaping up as one of the most expensive primaries in the state.

Incumbent Mary Carmack-Altwies raised nearly $172,000 between May 7 and 28, most of it in the form of a $160,000 loan for her campaign. She spent more than $162,000 and ended the reporting period with more than $32,000 in the bank, according to campaign finance reports filed with the secretary of state on Thursday.

Her opponent, former District Attorney Marco Serna, raised just under $22,000 but started the reporting period with significantly more than his opponent. Despite spending about $134,000, he closed with nearly $40,000 for the final stretch before Tuesday’s vote.

With no Republicans running for the seat, the winner of the Democratic primary is all but guaranteed to be the next district attorney for Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties. The race was one of the most heated locally, with the candidates trading words on controversial topics such as the drunk driving prosecution and Carmack-Altwies’ handling of the involuntary manslaughter case against actor Alec Baldwin and the prosecutions that followed the fall of the Plaza obelisk.

According to Secretary of State data, Carmack-Altwies and Serna are both among the top 10 fundraisers and spenders during the 2024 primaries. With a total of $313,308 raised to date, Carmack-Altwies has raised the third highest amount won the state, behind only the two candidates for Second Judicial District Attorney, which covers Albuquerque. Of this, $220,000 is money she lent to her campaign, according to campaign finance filings.

That puts her ahead of powerful lawmakers like Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, one of the Legislature’s top fundraisers and a conservative Democrat facing a primary challenge, and House Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, who represents a safe country. Democratic district and faces no opposition in the primaries, but contributes generously to other Democratic House members.

Serna, who has raised $184,966, has raised eighth among all primary candidates in the state, just behind Martínez. The majority of revenue comes from individual contributions; his records do not show that he borrowed money for his campaign, and the secretary of state’s records show that only $4,424 of his total came from the candidate.

In terms of spending, Carmack-Altwies’ $282,744 is her second-highest in the state, behind incumbent Second Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman. Serna ranked ninth among all candidates in the state with $148,059.

Both campaigns have spent tens of thousands of dollars to get their messages to voters. Serna’s latest report includes $75,000, in three separate installments, with a Florida company for campaign literature and mailings; more than $20,000 in radio airtime and production costs; and $25,000 in text messages and social media.

The Carmack-Altwies report notes that a total of nearly $120,000 was spent on TV airtime and production costs, and more than $40,000 was spent with the Albuquerque firm SWEL for “Research, Media Buy, Mailer, Campaign Consulting.”

Local legislative races

Although state representative. Ambrose Castellano Gonzales is financially ahead of opponent Anita Gonzales in his race to retain his seat in House District 70 and has received notable support.

Castellano has voted against progressive priorities such as abortion rights, clean fuel standards and paid family and medical leave. Government Michelle Lujan Grisham has come out in favor of Gonzales, donated money and campaigned with her, the only state legislative primary in which the governor has played such a prominent role.

The district includes San Miguel County and extends south to Moriarty and Duran.

Castellano raised more than $42,000 during the last filing period, spent more than $45,000 and closed with nearly $75,000 in cash on hand. Gonzales raised more than $14,000, spent more than $16,000 and closed with more than $42,000 in hand.

Their donor lists tell the story of the divide between the moderate and progressive wings of the state Democratic Party. Castellano’s contributions in May included business groups such as the Apartment Association of New Mexico, the New Mexico Restaurant Association, the New Mexico Medical PAC, Devon Energy and Permian Resources. Meanwhile, Gonzales is raising money from groups such as the state chapters of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, New Mexico Voices for Children and the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club.

Overall, Gonzales’ top donors during the campaign included the pro-abortion rights group Emily’s List, Lujan Grisham, the climate change activist group Climate Cabinet and the labor union IBEW, while Castellano’s donors included Devon Energy Production, New Mexico Gas Company and Associated Contractors of New Mexico. A similar pattern is playing out in several other primaries in other parts of the state, where a Democrat who voted against the 2024 version of paid family and medical leave is facing a challenge from the left, with business groups supporting incumbents and progressives donors challengers.

In Senate District 24, an open seat in Santa Fe where longtime incumbent Sen. Nancy Rodriguez is retiring, Linda Trujillo easily outpaces the other two Democratic candidates. During the most recent filing period, she raised over $18,000, spent nearly $48,000 and closed with over $30,000 left in her pocket.

Trujillo’s major donors include Chevron, IBEW and the Committee on Individual Responsibility, which is affiliated with the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association and Foundation.

County Commissioner Anna Hansen raised nearly $14,300 during the reporting period, spent about $18,600 and closed with $9,958.41. Veronica Krupnick raised $7,255, spent just $733.08 and closed with $8,955.54.

Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, who is fighting to keep her seat in House District 41 in Northern New Mexico, is raising and spending far more money than her opponent Margaret Cecilia Campos. Herrera ended the reporting period with nearly $30,000 in the bank, compared to just over $3,000 for Campos.

Herrera raised nearly $13,000 in the May period covered by the report from a mix of individual and political committee donors, including the NEA, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and fellow lawmakers. The Speaker Fund, the campaign arm of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives, also contributed to her campaign. Although Campos raised about half of what Herrera did during the reporting period, her backers include some political action committees such as the New Mexico Restaurant Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association and Pojoaque and Ohkay Owingeh pueblos.

Provincial Secretary, Committee

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark raises and spends far more than her opponent, former Clerk Geraldine Salazar. Clark finished the last reporting period with nearly $26,000, compared to about $5,400 for Salazar. Although Salazar raised more money during the few covered weeks of May—nearly $5,000, compared to about $3,000 for the incumbent clerk—Clark entered the reporting period with much more cash on hand, and $2,000 of Salazar’s haul was a contribution she made to her own loot. campaign.

The Democratic primary for the District 2 committee seat remained relatively quiet. Lisa Cacari-Stone appears to remain ahead in the money race, having spent about $11,400 in the last reporting period and closing with about $5,400 in cash. With the help of a loan to his own campaign, Benito outranked Martinez Jr. her during the reporting period, while he spent $4,138 and closed with about $5,400.

District 2 candidate Scott Fuqua’s latest campaign finance report had not yet been posted on the Secretary of State’s website as of Friday afternoon.

Fundraising has been a more contentious issue in District 4, where the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has endorsed Adam Johnson, has attacked his opponent, Mika Old, over contributions from entities linked to Richard Yates, a relative of prominent Republican politicians. oilman Harvey Yates.

Old raised $8,450 during the reporting period, with $2,750 coming from Hotel Santa Fe, $2,500 from the New Mexico Association of Realtors and the remainder from individual donations. She spent nearly $7,900 on radio and digital ads and campaign mailers and closed with $15,656.62 on hand. Johnson raised just over $2,500 during the reporting period — mostly from individual donors, but with some in-kind help from the Sierra Club — and spent nearly $4,400. He closed with more than $19,800 in cash.

District 4 candidate Stephen Chiulli raised just $200, spent $265 and ended up with $1,616 in the last reporting period.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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