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Area legislators raise, spend campaign cash

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State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, speaks to the Chaves County Federated Republican Women during their meeting Wednesday at the Roswell Convention Center. Recent campaign finance reports show the campaigns of Ingle and some other area lawmakers spent money from their campaign accounts well ahead of the next elections. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Members of the New Mexico Legislature will not be on the ballot until 2022, but that has not halted the flow of money in or out of their campaign accounts.

None of the four lawmakers in Chaves County districts in the New Mexico House of Representatives have declared whether they plan to run for another two-year term next year.

However, recent campaign finance reports show that between Jan. 1 and April 5, legislators continued to spend funds left over from their November campaigns — and in some cases, received contributions. The deadline for the reports to be filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office was April 12.

Of the four state House members representing parts of Chaves County, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, House District 54, already had $67,911.19 in his campaign war chest at the end of 2020. Reports show that in the first three months of 2021, he received a single contribution of $500 from Safelite Fulfillment Inc., an auto body repair business in Columbus, Ohio. After spending $6,800, Townsend has $61,611.19 left in cash on hand.

House District 59 state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, finished the reporting period with $64,966.40 in cash on hand, ahead of his three other House colleagues from Chaves County. Within that timeframe, reports state he received one $500 contribution and made $3,969.03 in expenditures.

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State Reps. Phelps Anderson, DTS, Roswell, of House District 66 and state Rep. Candy Ezzell, R-Roswell, House District 58, did not receive any contributions between January and early April.

According to reports though, Anderson spent $2,612.38 and Ezzell, $1,214.63. The Ezzell and Anderson campaigns finished the period with $8,946.17 and $841.15 respectively. Reports indicate Anderson has an unpaid campaign debt of $100.

Senators

Unlike in the House, members of the New Mexico Senate only face reelection once every four years. All 42 senators were on the ballot in 2020.

State Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, Senate District 33, filed a statement of no activity, meaning he did not engage in any fundraising or campaign spending during the period.

The longest-serving member of Chaves County’s delegation, state Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, Senate District 27, did not add to his sizable campaign account. He did though spend $5,360 and finished the fundraising period with $64,792.13 left in his campaign account.

Among the local senators, state Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, of Senate District 42, had the largest fundraising haul: a single contribution of $1,000 from Next Era Energy Resources LLC of Juno Beach, Florida. Kernan has $12,088.54 left over after spending a total of $5,198.41, according to reports.

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, Senate District 32, was the recipient of a single donation: $750 from the PAC of the New Mexico Gas Company. He spent $1,000 and ended the reporting period with $6,539.23.

Expenditures

The reports show expenses by the campaigns mostly included print materials, advertising and payments to campaign consultants, but also the redirection of some of their own funds to other PACs or campaigns.

According to New Mexico law, a candidate can give contributions they receive to a political committee or another candidate seeking election to public office.

The Our Values PAC, a conservative committee, was the recipient of donations from three area legislators. Kernan gave $2,000, while Nibert and Ingle gave $1,000 and $1,500 respectively.

Townsend provided $2,000 to the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico PAC, the state’s branch of the National Right to Life Committee, an advocacy group that opposes abortion rights.

Pirtle, Ingle and Townsend, according to reports, each gave $1,000 to the campaign of Mark Moores, Republican candidate in the upcoming special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.

Moores, a state senator from Albuquerque, is running for the open seat in the district made up of Torrance County, most of Bernalillo County and parts of Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia counties. The seat was vacated in March by Democrat Deb Haaland following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate to be secretary of the interior.

Moores will face Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque and Libertarian Chris Manning of Kirtland in the June 1 election.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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