NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The 2022 primary elections have the possibility of shaking up the politics of the state. After debates over the politics of COVID-19 lockdowns, statewide funding, and extended discussions on crime, many state and local candidates want to bring big changes to New Mexico.

But to get there, they need to make it through the primary election. One way to do that is to spend money on campaigning. So KRQE News 13 breaks down the big races by looking at how much candidates earned, and spent, to win your vote.

Big money pouring into the governor’s race

Political ads and yard signs have been out. This year, the incumbent Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is looking to keep her seat as the state’s executive leader. However, several Republican candidates are spending big bucks to stop that from happening.

By far, Lujan Grisham has earned more in financial contributions this primary season than her competitors. So far, she’s earned more than $7 million, according to the latest data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. They’re the office tasked with keeping track of each candidate’s election earnings and spending.

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In the race for New Mexico governor, Lujan Grisham has out-earned and out-spent all other candidates. Ronchetti earned the most out of the Republican candidates. Data: NMSOS.

Lujan Grisham has generated more than $4 million from New Mexico-based donors alone, the data shows. That means her average in-state contribution is more than $325. She’s also earned funds from contributors in other states. She’s earned more than $470,000 from California-based donors and nearly as much from Texas-based donors.

She’s spent around $4 million of her funds, the data shows. The majority of those expenses — nearly $1 million worth — were for T.V. or cable ads and production. The data shows she also spent over $800,000 on campaign consultants. She only spent around $6,000 total for mailers and print ads.

Behind Lujan Grisham, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti is the second biggest earner. He’s generated more than $4 million in the 2022 primary election cycle, the data reveals.

The vast majority of his contributions came from New Mexico-based donors. Over $400,000 did come from Texas, the data shows, and a little over $53,000 came from Arizona. Only around $32,000 came from California.

Ronchetti has spent nearly $1.5 million on T.V. ads, the data shows. And he’s spent over $150,000 on mailers. He’s only spent around $91,000 on campaign consultants, the data reveals.

Behind Ronchetti in terms of earnings, Republican candidate Rebecca Dow earned a little under $2 million — less than half what Ronchetti earned and around a quarter of Lujan Grisham’s account.

Dow has spent over $600,000 on T.V. ads and over $300,000 on consultants. She’s spent over $150,000 on mailers and campaign literature, the data shows.

The other Republican gubernatorial candidates — Greg Zanetti, Jay Block, and Ethel Maharg — have each earned less than $1 million, the data shows. Zanetti came closest, with over $700,000 in campaign funds.

Democratic attorney general race is relatively close — in funding

A race that’s already led to some intense debates, the run for the Democratic ticket in the state’s attorney general election is relatively close in terms of funding. Democratic candidates Raúl Torrez and Brian Colón have earned over $1.2 million and spent about as much. Republican candidate Jeremy Gay, on the other hand, has generated less than $150,000.

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Democratic candidates Colón and Torrez are relatively close in finances. Republican Jeremy Gay has earned far less. Data from NMSOS.

Colón has out-earned and out-spent Torrez by a marginal amount. Colón has earned more than $1.6 million in contributions, while Torrez earned closer to $1.3 million.

When it comes to spending their earnings, both Colón and Torrez have spent around $1.3 million, the data shows. Colón has spent more than $740,000 on T.V. ads and productions and nearly $280,000 on consultants. None of Torrez’s expenses within the New Mexico Secretary of State data are categorized under the purpose of “T.V. advertising.” But the data does show that he spent more than $52,000 on campaign consultants.

Likely to see big spending after the primaries

When it comes to primary elections, money certainly helps. After all, it allows a candidate to hire consultants, pay for advertisements, and make sure the public recognizes their name.

“Financing of campaign campaigns is really important,” Timothy Krebs, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, says. “It gives candidates an opportunity to communicate.”

“The voters on either side — the Republican side or the Democratic side — they’ve got to make a distinction between candidates who are largely the same on the issues,” Krebs says. So, “a lot of the spending and a lot of communication revolves around things that are a bit more personal, things like characteristics of the candidates, their traits, leadership, and so forth.”

But once the primaries are over, the real spending is likely to begin, according to previous election cycles.

For big races, such as the race for the governor’s office, expenses really start adding up as November approaches. In 2018, for example, gubernatorial candidates reportedly spent more than$14 million. So while the primaries represent a key stepping stone, many of those that pass tonight’s test will still have some big checks to write before November.

Statewide governor campaigns are elections that “are deemed most important and that get the most national attention and so forth,” Krebs explains. “There’s just a lot of money that’s going to flow into those races. Not only the money that the candidates raise and spend themselves but also independent outside spending. It’s gonna it’s gonna flow in.”

*Editor’s Note: KRQE News 13 has been in contact with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office regarding the accuracy of campaign finance data. We have noted a discrepancy in the reports, but we’ve been told that the data we’re using to compile the numbers in this story are accurate.