- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The race for governor of New Mexico is about to heat up with an advertising blitz by a national Republican group.

The Republican Governors Association bought at least $115,000 worth of television time from Albuquerque-area stations for airing political ads, according to contract records posted online.

The ads will start airing Friday on the stations that reach viewers across most of the state and will continue for a week. Many of the ads will air immediately before or during high viewership news programs, the records indicate.

It comes just days after Democratic Attorney General Gary King won the party’s nomination to challenge GOP Gov. Susana Martinez in the November general election.

King said he expected a barrage of negative ads by groups such as the RGA.

The association declined to comment on the advertising. The group has been airing critical ads against Democratic candidates in governor races in other states, including Iowa.

Federal court rulings have given the green light to corporations, unions and other groups to operate outside of contribution restrictions if they’re spending independently on advertising that advocates the defeat or election of a candidate.

King said he didn’t expect the RGA ad blitz to inflict much damage on his candidacy because voters are familiar with him as a two-term statewide office holder, a former legislator and someone who has run for other offices. He is the son of the state’s longest serving governor, the late Bruce King.

“If they see some out-of-state organization that they don’t know, I think that they’ll say, ‘We know Gary King. We know quite a lot about him and that just doesn’t seem true,’” King said.

His campaign sent an email to his supporters alerting them about the advertising and saying, “one can only surmise they’re a bit worried” about Martinez’s re-election prospects.

The RGA, which helps elect GOP governors, was the top contributor to Martinez’s 2010 campaign, giving about $1.3 million. Martinez serves on the association’s executive committee.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the chairman of the RGA, and he campaigned for Martinez last week in Roswell, Carlsbad and Artesia.


Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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