Legislative candidates raised $12 million and spent more than $10.3 million during the 2016 election cycle.
Republicans lost their state House majority despite outraising and outspending Democrats overall.
Democratic Senate candidates outspent their GOP opponents while increasing their majority. even though Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez lost his seat after an onslaught of negative advertising funded by a super PAC.
Candidates filed their final reports Thursday. New Mexico In Depth downloaded 2015 and 2016 data from the Secretary of State to analyze campaign finance for legislative candidates.
Here’s a look at candidate fundraising by party for legislative races. Totals include money raised in 2015 and 2016, including in-kind contributions.
And here’s a look at candidate spending by party for those races.
Typically, the biggest spenders won their races.
Only two House candidates and Greg Baca, Sanchez’s Senate opponent, won races after being outspent by their opponents.
In House District 32, Deming Democrat Candie Sweetser defeated Republican Vicki Chavez, despite spending only $41,000 to Chavez’s $60,000 in the general election. Sweetser replaces outgoing Democratic Rep. Dona Irwin.
And Sanchez spent more than $510,000 to Baca’s more than $132,000 in the Senate District 29, which Republican Gov. Susana Martinez singled out. Advance New Mexico Now, the super PAC run by the governor’s political team, spent more than $370,000 on television ads against Sanchez, plus more on radio ads and mailers opposing Sanchez and supporting Baca.
But that contest came in second in terms of overall spending to House District 30. In that Albuquerque district, GOP House Majority Leader Nate Gentry outdid Sanchez and all other legislative candidates with nearly $552,000. His opponent, Democrat Natalie Figueroa, spent almost $110,000 in her effort to unseat Gentry, who will be minority leader when the 2017 legislative session begins.
Here’s a look at the top 20 spenders, including how much they raised.
A few of those big spenders didn’t face serious challenges.
But outgoing GOP House Speaker Speaker Don Tripp, of Socorro, and incoming Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf, of Santa Fe, spent plenty of money helping candidates in competitive races. Gentry also donated to other candidates and candidate-operated political action committees.
Not all candidates spent big.
And several candidates who unsuccessfully challenged incumbents spent less than $10,000 on their campaigns.
And some losing candidates in competitive races had money left over.
Sen. Ted Barela, R-Estanacia, had nearly $28,000 in the bank after his loss to Democrat Liz Stefanics, a Santa Fe County commissioner and former state senator. Sanchez still had more than $26,000 left. Six other losing candidates had between $10,000 and $18,000 left in their accounts, based on campaign filings.
For additional 2016 election analysis from Sandra Fish, read more NM In Depth content: