Big biz, unions back candidates

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Contributors to local House campaigns include oil and gas, Pharma

By Carol A. Clark

Money is streaming in from unions, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and health industry political action committees for two local candidates battling for the District 43 House seat.

The district encompasses Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties.

The candidates released the numbers they’ve accrued in their campaign war chests through the most recent financial reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

Republican incumbent Jeannette Wallace declared $8,990 in campaign contributions and Democratic challenger Stephanie Richard reported $17,545.

Contributors to Wallace’s campaign include Navajo Refining Company, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Pfizer.

Backing Richard is Communications Workers of America, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local.

“What really stands out in this race is the fact that a Democratic challenger has raised roughly double that of the Republican incumbent in a year where the Democrats are supposed to be on the defensive, at least nationally … you can’t underestimate the effect of a quality challenger in these races,” said Associate Professor Timothy B. Krebs from the political science department at the University of New Mexico.

Krebs said that the make-up of the PAC contributions is not surprising. Republican politicians are typically sympathetic to the oil and gas industry and larger corporations, he said, and the Democratic party leans more toward unions.

Wallace is retired and lives in Los Alamos. She is seeking her ninth two-year term at the state house. She is considered to be well respected in her district and popular with her legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

“I haven’t needed contributions in the last few elections so I haven’t asked for them – this time the person handling my campaign asked lobbyists for contributions, (due to the contested race),” Wallace said.

PAC and corporate contributors to Wallace’s campaign include:

• $200 June 1 from Windstream Communications in Santa Fe

• $500 June 1 from Navajo Refining Company LLC in Artesia

• $500 May 27 from Helena Chemical Company in Collierville, Tenn.

• $500 May 27 from New Mexico Medical Political Action Committee in Albuquerque

• $250 May 27 from Enterprise Holdings Inc. in St. Louis

• $500 March 18 from Pfizer Inc. in New York

• $250 Dec. 28 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico in Albuquerque

• $250 Dec. 28 from New Mexico Hospitals Association in Albuquerque

• $500 Dec. 24 from ConocoPhillips in Austin, Texas

• $500 Dec. 21 from Comcast in Philadelphia, Pa.

• $500 Dec. 21 from New Mexico Health Care Association in Albuquerque

• $500 Nov. 30 from Altria Client Services Inc in Richmond Va.

• $500 Nov. 2 from Chevron Corporation in Concord, Calif.

Richard is a newcomer to the political scene. She teaches school in Pojoaque and lives in White Rock with her husband and two children.

“Now is the perfect time to be looking at all the candidates’ contributors,” Richard said. “You can tell a lot about a candidate by reading their finance reports. As you can tell from reading my reports, I am representing the working families of our district. I have received more than 200 separate contributions from working families and individuals who chose to give to my campaign because they want to have all of our voices heard again.

“I have also received six contributions from unions who represent the working professionals of our state and one contribution from a business organization. Early on I decided not to take any contribution from organizations whose actions I would have trouble defending.”

Richard said that she chose to accept an endorsement and contribution from the Mortgage Lenders’ Association because she believes they have been proactive in policing their industry and getting rid of bad actors who were partially responsible for the mortgage crisis.

PAC contributors to Richard’s campaign include:

•$1,000 May 24 from Political Action Committee Emily’s List NF Fund in Washington, D.C.

•$500 May 12 from Union Political Action fund CWA Local 7076 in Santa Fe

•$2,000 May 5 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO Union Political Action Fund in Washington D.C.

•$500 April 21 from Mortgage Industry Professional PAC in Albuquerque

•$500 April 13 from Union Political Action fund Plumbers and Steamfitters Local #412 Political Action Fund in Albuquerque

•$250 April 8 from New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council State Legislative Fund, Albuquerque

Calls for comment placed to contributors including Pfizer, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local #412, Navajo Refinery and AFSCME were not immediately returned.

Source: New Mexico Secretary of State Campaign Finance Report