Michelle Lujan Grisham who?
The name of New Mexico’s governor and Democratic standard-bearer is foreign to Amy Rothstein of McLean, Va.
But that didn’t stop the 74-year-old, a regular supporter of Democratic causes and candidates, from sending Lujan Grisham’s campaign a check for $2.50 in October.
“By itself, no, of course it wouldn’t do anything,” she said about her small contribution. “But my hope is always that it’ll combine with others to make some sort of difference.”
Lujan Grisham, who already has announced her intentions to seek a second four-year term in 2022, collected nearly a quarter-million dollars between October and April, according to the governor’s most recent campaign finance report, filed April 13 with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.
Lujan Grisham’s campaign was not only the top earner but the top spender in New Mexico last year, according to the secretary of state’s website.
The campaign, dubbed New Mexicans for Michelle, had an opening balance of nearly $215,000 at the start of the reporting period in October. With expenditures of almost $325,000 in the October-to-April reporting period, the campaign now has about $134,000 cash on hand.
Among the campaign’s biggest expenses: $62,500 as part of a settlement with a former campaign staffer who accused Lujan Grisham of grabbing his crotch before the 2018 general election; a $50,000 political contribution to the Democratic Party of New Mexico; and $34,100 to Anne Lewis Strategies of Washington, D.C., which is listed in the campaign finance report as an “online consultant.”
The 237-page report lists hundreds of campaign contributions ranging from $1 to $12,000. The average contribution is $122, according to the governor’s campaign.
“Gov. Lujan Grisham’s campaign is in strong shape heading into re-election, with grassroots support from across New Mexico,” campaign spokesman Jared Leopold wrote in an email.
“She is proud to have support from a diverse cross-section of donors who share her vision for helping New Mexico recover from the pandemic, growing and diversifying the economy, and expanding health care access for all New Mexicans,” he added. “It’s no surprise that both New Mexicans and national outlets like the New York Times have recognized Gov. Lujan Grisham as the best governor in the country at managing a COVID-19 vaccination program. Her campaign will build on that record of success leading into re-election in 2022.”
The governor’s biggest contributors represent various interests, from pharmaceuticals and the medical cannabis industry to Native American tribes.
San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, a renewable energy company that has expanded into New Mexico, contributed $10,000.
“Pattern Energy has invested over $3.4 billion in rural New Mexico communities, opened three state offices, and created thousands of jobs at nine different wind energy and transmission projects over the past seven years,” Matt Dallas, a company spokesman, wrote in an email. “We routinely support local and state elected officials in the communities where we operate.”
Dallas noted the company has given money to everyday New Mexicans, too. He wrote that Pattern Energy contributed and helped raise more than $3 million for the All Together NM Fund, a nonprofit set up to help struggling New Mexicans statewide during the early onset of the COVID-19 crisis, providing food, supplies, child care and small business grants.
Eli Lilly and Co., a biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research company based in Indianapolis, also gave the governor $10,000.
“At Lilly, our purpose is to create medicines that make life better for patients. As part of our work to make life better, Lilly supports candidates across the political spectrum who demonstrate an understanding of our purpose and our work,” Bradley Jacklin, a company spokesman, wrote in an email. “Gov. Lujan Grisham fits that criteria and also is part of the Democratic Governors Association leadership, another organization Lilly supports.”
The medical cannabis industry also donated large sums of cash to the governor, who earlier this month signed a bill into law legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana in New Mexico.
The report listed three separate $10,000 contributions from Darren White, a former Bernalillo County sheriff and state public safety chief who now serves as CEO of PurLife, a medical cannabis company with two cultivation centers and five dispensaries. But the governor’s campaign told The New Mexican late Friday that an amended report would be filed to reflect none of the contributions came from White “personally,” but from three separate companies associated with him.
The governor also received a $10,000 contribution from Bright Green in Grants, which the campaign finance report identified as a cannabis company. Efforts to reach White and Bright Green for comment were unsuccessful.
At $12,000, Santo Domingo Pueblo is also among her top contributors.
“Santo Domingo Pueblo believes that Gov. Lujan Grisham has done a fantastic job as governor,” pueblo Gov. Sidelio Tenorio said through a spokesman. “She’s done an excellent job at leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, and she’s always been very supportive of the Native American community.”
Other top contributors: Lovelace Health System in Albuquerque contributed $10,000; a Massachusetts-based company identified as CC Procurement donated $10,000; and Exxon Mobil gave the governor $7,000.
While the vast majority of campaign contributions are from New Mexicans — some 82 percent — out-of-state donors like Rothstein also donated money to the governor’s burgeoning reelection campaign.
Hannah Banks, who lives in Newton, Mass., sent the governor’s campaign $50.
Like Rothstein, Banks is also a frequent supporter of Democratic causes and candidates. Banks founded an organization she said collects videos of ordinary people talking about why they vote for Democrats.
“I think she’s doing a fabulous job and, way back when, I really liked her video of her busting through walls,” Banks said, referring to a video that went viral on Twitter in 2019 showing Lujan Grisham smashing through walls in high heels while talking about breaking barriers to improve New Mexico.