The two candidates for Chaves County Commission District 1 have been unloading their campaign accounts in recent weeks for newspaper and radio ads, although the incumbent retains a huge advantage in remaining funds in the closing days of the race.
As of Tuesday, a week before the general election, Republican incumbent James Duffey had $3,274 remaining in campaign funds, while his Democrat opponent, Eloy Ortega Jr., had just $253 left, according to their latest campaign finance reports published Thursday by the New Mexico Secretary of State office.
Duffey has more than doubled Ortega in total net contributions in the race to represent the commission’s 1st District.
Duffey had net contributions of $12,905 as of Tuesday, while Ortega had net contributions of $5,805.
Duffey, through Tuesday, had net expenditures of $10,376, while Ortega had spent a total of $5,577.
Ortega raised more money than Duffey in the most recent reporting period covering Oct. 7 through Tuesday, although Duffey more than tripled Ortega’s spending in the time frame.
Between Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Duffey raised $250, while Ortega raised $1,090.
Duffey received a $200 contribution on Oct. 23 from Phelps Anderson of Roswell and a $50 donation on Oct. 21 from Mary Glass of Roswell.
Between Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Ortega received $200 donations each from Olivia Reid of Dexter, Tim Raftery of Roswell and Ralph Fresquez of Roswell; and $100 donations each from Richard and Mary Jane Madison of Roswell, Cruz Chavez of Roswell, Jose and Jeanette Gutierrez of Roswell, and Charles and Suzanne Berry of Roswell.
Ortega also received a $40 donation from David Gomez of Roswell and a $50 donation from an anonymous donor.
Between Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Duffey spent $7,681, while Ortega spent $2,172.
Duffey, of Roswell, has invested heavily in radio and newspaper ads in recent weeks.
Duffey spent $2,446 with Majestic Communications of Roswell on Oct. 7 for radio ads, $1,735 with KBIM Radio on Oct. 9 for radio ads, and $891 with KRDD on Oct. 17 for radio ads.
On Oct. 17, Duffey spent $2,462 with the Roswell Daily Record for newspaper advertising. His other expenditure between Oct. 7 and Tuesday was a $147 payment to the U.S. Postal Service for stamps.
Ortega, also of Roswell, has also invested significantly in radio and newspaper ads in recent weeks.
Ortega spent $1,064 with Hispanic Target Media of Roswell on Oct. 8 for radio ads and $821 with the Roswell Daily Record on Tuesday for a full-page ad scheduled to run in the newspaper today.
Ortega’s other expenditures between Oct. 7 and Tuesday were a $179 payment to Peter Piper Pizza of Roswell for a campaign meeting and lunch, and $58 and $50 payments to Allsup’s for fuel for a campaign vehicle.
Duffey has been slow to expend his campaign resources, amassing a big advantage over Ortega in available funds.
As of Oct. 6, Duffey had $10,705 in his campaign coffers, while Ortega had $1,335.
Ortega also out-raised Duffey between Sept. 2 and Oct. 6, the second most recent reporting period.
Ortega raised $3,790 in the time frame, while Duffey raised $2,575.
Ortega spent $3,319 of campaign funds from Sept. 2 through Oct. 6, while Duffey spent $1,653.
Four years ago, Duffey, after a three-day recount, defeated Ortega by a single vote to win the District 1 county commissioner office. The final vote tally in the 2010 general election was 1,004 votes for Duffey and 1,003 for Ortega.
Ortega has said it will be harder for a Democrat or Hispanic candidate to win in District 1 after the district was redrawn following the 2010 Census. Ortega said the district’s new boundaries encompass fewer registered Democrats.
The 1st district begins east of Roswell’s Main Street and stretches to the county’s eastern borders. It has become a political battleground for both major political parties.
Only voters living east of Main Street, about 20 percent of the county’s population, are eligible to vote in the Duffey-Ortega race, which is the only contested race for a county office in the general election.
Currently, five Republicans serve on the county commission. Republicans currently hold every elected county office.
Incumbent District 5 Commissioner Greg Nibert, who was prevented from running for a third four-year term due to term limits, will be replaced in January by Republican Will Gavin. Gavin is unchallenged in the general election and was unchallenged in the GOP primary in June.
Both Duffey and Ortega were unchallenged in the June primaries.
The winner of the Duffey-Ortega race will earn a four-year term on the five-member county commission, with an annual salary of $26,257.