HD 24 race pits saver against spender

The battle for New Mexico House District 24 has begun to look like a battle between a spender and a saver.

Campaign finance reports show that Rep. Elizabeth Thomson, the Democratic incumbent, has been an avid spender, paying out almost 66 percent of her total campaign contributions.
Conrad James, the Republican challenger, has spent only about 33 percent of his campaign funds.

In dollars, that comes to $56,615 in spending by Thomson, and $28,088 by James, according to recent reports filed between Sept. 8 and Oct. 13 with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

Thomson, according to what she reported to the Secretary of State’s Office, spent her funds on a campaign staff, which includes a campaign manager, direct mail and miscellaneous fees. In addition to several paid campaigners, she relies on volunteers to assist in canvassing.

James spent the bulk of his expenditures on mail pieces, yard signs, stamps and $14 on Paypal transaction fees.

Timothy Krebs, professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, said he suspects James has been saving money throughout the primaries in order to spend closer to the general elections. Thomson, meanwhile, has been spending more quickly to get ahead of James early on.

“There is going to be a ton of spending in the last month,” Krebs said. “What they are doing is they are waiting to put some money in this election. There is going to be a big push down the stretch.”

Krebs said Thomson’s spending is actually going be less productive because she is the incumbent and already has more name recognition than James.

“His spending is really effective because he is not as widely known,” Krebs said. “And because he is not as widely known, the increase [of] his name recognition is going to be significantly greater than hers.”

Since February 2014, James has spent $29,879 compared to Thomson, who has spent $101,577, reports show.

Individual donations make up 31 percent of Thomson’s total contributions and five percent of James’ contributions, according to recent campaign finance reports.

Campaigns, political action committees, businesses and tribal governments, such as Ohkay Owingeh, which has donated $1,000, account for 66 percent of Thomson’s monetary contributions.

The largest donation she received was $2,600 from the Southwest Leadership Fund, which is a political action committee. According to followthemoney.org, the Southwest Leadership Fund had donated $357,498 to 55 different democratic candidates and committees since 2010.

A large majority of James’ contributions, about 91 percent, comes from PACs, companies, and tribal governments. One of the PACs that has donated to James is New Mexico Forward. The committee has donated to ten other campaigns and out of all the donations it has made, one of its largest donation this election year, so far, was $5,200 to James’ campaign.

Thomson has in-kind contributions, which are donations other than monetary.
In-kind contributions from Albuquerque Area Firefighters and the Democratic Party of New Mexico account for $2,089. According to past finance reports, James has had in-kind contributions for this campaign, but none were reported recently.