ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — There’s less than a month left for candidates to sway undecided voters in New Mexico. And if you’ve watched TV lately, you’ve likely noticed one of the key ways candidates are making their case is through TV ads.

The latest campaign finance numbers show some candidates are dropping incredible amounts of cash to get air time. Among the hottest contests: the gubernatorial race and Congressional District 2, covering much of southern New Mexico.

KRQE News 13 is crunching the latest numbers tied to this season’s election ad buys. The data shows some candidates have really ramped up spending in recent weeks.

Millions in TV ads to win the governor’s office

Between the two candidates vying for the governor’s office, a whopping $6.7 million has been spent on the general election between Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Mark Ronchetti. That figure doesn’t include the millions spent on the primaries earlier this year. If you include spending from the primaries, the two candidates have expended nearly $15 million to run their campaigns.

Of course, a lot of that has gone towards the TV ads you’ve probably seen. Of the nearly $3.2 million Ronchetti has spent on the general election, more than 70% has gone to TV ads, according to data from the New Mexico Secretary of State (NMSOS).

Lujan Grisham has spent more than $3.5 million on the general election, according to NMSOS data. And more than 60% of that has been for TV ads.


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For both the primary and general election, Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti have each spend more than $3 million on TV ad production and airing costs. Data from NMSOS.


As KRQE News 13 previously reported, Lujan Grisham has spent a large share of her funds on the Washington D.C.-based company named Buying Time LLC. Ronchetti, on the other hand, has leaned heavily on the Virginia-based SRCP Media Inc. and a local company called McCleskey Media Strategies.

McCleskey is a well-known name among New Mexico’s Republican Party. The company’s website points out that Jay McCleskey was a consultant for Susana Martinez and also helped Richard Barry become mayor of Albuquerque for two terms starting in 2009.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings reveal that both Lujan Grisham are seemingly making one last big spending push on TV advertisements in addition to those that have previously aired. The data shows that candidates are planning to air more ads through the end of October.

TV stations are required to report political ad contracts to the FCC. Several local TV stations, including KRQE News 13, have submitted receipts that show tens of thousands of dollars being spent for ads to air in upcoming days. And KRQE News 13 Political Analyst Gabe Sanchez says it makes sense for candidates to keep spending.

“If they’ve got money left to spend, they’re going to spend it down to the last few weeks of the election,” Sanchez says. And ads are “going to get a little more personal and more negative” in tone, Sanchez predicts.

Big PAC spending for Congressional District 2

Beyond the gubernatorial race, the race to represent Congressional District 2, covering much of New Mexico’s southern half in Washington D.C., is also adding up in cost. The district may be one of the most watched across the U.S., as 2021 redistricting efforts significantly changed the makeup of registered voters in the traditionally Republican leaning district.

Aside from the candidates own expenditures, various political action committees (PACs) have been extremely active in the race. Outside PACs have spent a total of around $4 million to support or oppose Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez, according to Federal Election Commission data.

The data reveals that political action committee spending on both campaigns rose dramatically in August. The records show that LCV Victory Fund, a PAC with nationwide influence, spent over $268,500 on TV ads against Herrell near the end of August.

Other PACs have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Herrell. Right Women, a PAC supporting conservative women, spent $98,177.50 on media placement in support of Herrell. The Sentinel Action Fund spent $100,000 making phone calls in support of Herrell while spending over $600,000 on media placement opposing Vasquez.

Making big purchases in support of Vasquez are a few key PACs. Together Moving Mountains New Mexico has spent more than $36,000 on TV ads in support for Vasquez and thousands more on digital ads.


*Editor’s note: This story uses the term “Political Action Committee” or “PAC” in a colloquial sense. Some “PACs” in the story are officially classified as other types of filers, such as Independent expenditure filers.