Martinez raises $2 million for gubernatorial bid

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By Barry Massey




SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Susana Martinez raised 2.5 times more money since late June than Democrat Diane Denish in a hotly contested race to become New Mexico's next governor, according to new financial disclosures.

Martinez collected $2 million in contributions, and Denish raised $795,797.

The candidates spent a combined $3 million in the past 10 weeks as they flooded the airwaves with hard-hitting advertising. Each of the campaigns had at least $1 million stockpiled as they prepared for the start of early and absentee voting next month.

Martinez was slightly ahead in the race at the end of last month, according to a poll published by the Albuquerque Journal.

Denish reported cash-on-hand of $1.3 million as of Sept. 6, and Martinez had a $1 million campaign balance.

Martinez erased most of a fundraising advantage that Denish had enjoyed so far in the campaign. The Democrat was unopposed in the June primary while Martinez ran in a five-way GOP contest against several well-funded opponents. Martinez had a cash balance of only $300,000 in late June while Denish had more than $2 million.

Denish has served as lieutenant governor since 2003 under Gov. Bill Richardson, who is term-limited and can't seek re-election. Martinez has been district attorney in Las Cruces since 1997.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file campaign finance reports with the secretary of state's office to disclose contributions and spending from June 26 through last Monday.

Denish spent nearly $1.7 million on her gubernatorial bid during that time, including about $940,000 for television and radio advertising. Her campaign also spent $70,000 on a program to contact potential voters, nearly $186,000 on staff payroll and almost $40,000 on consultants.

Denish's top contributors, each giving $50,000, were a political committee of the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association and two labor unions, the Communication Workers of America and the American Federation of Teachers.

Exelon Generation, a subsidiary of one of the nation's largest electrical utilities and nuclear power producers, contributed $20,000.

Martinez spent almost $1.3 million, according to a fundraising summary released by her campaign. No itemization of expenditures and contributions was available because the campaign was unable to electronically file its report with the state agency.

Deputy Secretary of State Don Francisco Trujillo said he did not know the cause of the computer problems encountered by the Martinez campaign, but technical staff in the secretary of state's office had left for the day and were unable to assist the campaign, which will try again Tuesday to file the report electronically. No penalties for late filing will be assessed, Trujillo said, because the campaign made a good-faith attempt to meet Monday's deadline.