Gary Johnson brings competitive fundraising to US Senate race in NM

The Gary Johnson campaign for U.S. Senate in New Mexico is raising serious money from small donors, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Johnson announced his campaign with the Libertarian Party in mid-August, and has already raised more than $235,000.

Mick Rich, Johnson’s Republican opponent, raised only $133,000 during the entire quarter ending on Sept. 30. Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich leads in fundraising, with $911,000 raised in the third quarter. Heinrich’s campaign reported a surge in fundraising after Johnson entered the race, mostly through donations from big corporations like AT&T, Freeport-McMoRan, and AbbVie, as well as funding from PACs for well-known Democratic senators, big labor, and smaller contributions channeled through the website ActBlue.

In addition to Johnson’s own campaign’s fundraising, $2 million has been pledged by the Protect Freedom PAC, which is linked to Sen. Rand Paul, who endorsed Johnson’s Libertarian Party campaign on Aug. 28. Sen. Paul is the son of 1988 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and longtime congressman Ron Paul.

“I have an important announcement today,” Sen. Paul said in August. “I’m endorsing Gary Johnson for US Senate. Gary Johnson is a true fiscal conservative. As governor, he reduced the size of government while improving services. He cut taxes, and he set what may be a record by vetoing more than 700 unnecessary pieces of legislation. His leadership on issues of government overreach, protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against mass surveillance, and common-sense foreign policy is sorely needed in the United States Senate, for New Mexico and the nation. He will be an important ally and a critical independent voice.”

The high fundraising that the Johnson campaign has attracted will allow the campaign and associated PACs to produce ads and broadcast them on New Mexico television, the kind of exposure that is often out of financial reach for Libertarian Party candidates. Recent Johnson campaign ads include those produced by the Protect Freedom PAC and by longtime Johnson ally Ron Nielson’s ElectLiberty PAC, which is raising millions more.

Gary Johnson arguably won the only debate held so far in Mexico’s U.S. Senate race, so media pundits who are calling New Mexico a Democratic safe state may wind up with the same red faces as pollsters who predicted the 2016 presidential election outcome. Libertarian Party voter registration has surged 92 percent over the last 10 years, according to Ballot Access News, while Democratic registration has declined 8 percent and Republican registration has dropped 5 percent.

“The dinosaurs are running for cover,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Libertarian National Committee chair and Phoenix mayoral candidate. “Gary Johnson and the approximately 800 other Libertarians running for local, state, and federal office this year are about to smoke them out.”

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