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The Associated Press recently released a report on campaign spending in the Third District.
And the winner was Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott, who spent more than a half-million dollars in three months on his quest for the 3rd District seat in Congress.
And, according to a report filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, he still had more than $400,000 in the bank as of the end of March.
Wiviott is in a six-way race for the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Udall, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Two Republicans are running for their party’s nomination.
His main rival, Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Ray Lujan, is not suffering in poverty, mind you; he reported his campaign took in $326,990 for the quarter and spent $147,316. He had $271,920 on hand and debts of $50,000.
Democrat Benny Shendo Jr., former state secretary of Indian Affairs, raised $113,626 during the quarter, including $1,000 from his own pocket. He had $79,491 in the bank. His biggest contributions included $6,900 each from retirees William and Irene Beck of Chicago; $2,685 from Richard Williams of Broomfield, Colo., executive director of the American Indian College Fund; and $6,900 each from Jemez and Isleta pueblos.
Lawyer and Democrat Jon Adams netted $24,514 for the period. That included $14,040 he loaned the campaign, of which $6,511 has been repaid, and contributions from his family members. He had $12,279 on hand at the end of the quarter, but the campaign reported a debt of $10,583 for loans made by the candidate.
Republicans Dan East, a Rio Rancho contractor, reported $34,406 in contributions. His largest contributors, at $2,300 apiece‚ included Albuquerque contractor Dale Armstrong; James Giannelli of Albuquerque construction firm RMCI; and utilities contractor Mark Perry, board chairman of Northwest Cascade in Puyallup, Wash. East had $16,235 on hand at the end of the period, but campaign debts of $15,020.
Reports were not available from the FEC for Democrats Harry Montoya and Rudy Martin, or for Republican Marco Gonzales.
Wiviott’s personal spending has triggered the “millionaires’ amendment” to federal campaign finance law, allowing his opponents to triple what they can take from contributors up to $6,900 for the primary election cycle. Some candidates took advantage of that during the recent reporting period, from Jan. 1 through March 31.
Wiviott reported loaning his campaign $565,000 during the quarter, bringing the total he has personally pumped into the race to $890,000. He took in another $109,504 in individual contributions. Among his largest donors, at $2,300: Santa Fe investor Garrett Thornburg, chairman of the Thornburg Companies.
Big donors to Lujan included members of the Maloof family, whose business interests include a Las Vegas casino, beer distributing, banking and professional basketball teams. Their contributions totaled at least $28,600.
There is nothing wrong with someone spending his own money to run for public office – except it gives the impression that only the wealthy can.
Even Wiviott said there should be a better way and somehow we have to find it. Our public offices should not be available to only the well connected and wealthy. Each and every citizen should have the opportunity to run if they want to.
Today, that truth is not a reality.