- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A Republican group has raised $400,200 in the past month to aid the GOP’s bid to gain control of the New Mexico House for the first time in more than a half century.

Advance New Mexico Now and a Democratic group, Patriot Majority New Mexico, have been pouring money into legislative races that will determine which party controls the 70-member House. The GOP needs to pick up three seats to win control of the chamber

The committees are super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to independently advocate the election or defeat of candidates.

The GOP committee reported having cash-on-hand of $485,779 to fund its efforts in the closing weeks of the campaign. Its Democratic counterpart has cash reserves of $897,836.

A finance report filed Tuesday showed the GOP PAC spent $136,148 from Sept. 2 through Oct. 6. Expenditures included almost $55,000 on mailings in House races, $40,500 on polling and nearly $18,000 on radio advertising.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national party group, contributed $150,000 to the PAC, and Artesia oil producer Mack Energy Corp. gave $100,000.

Western Refining chairman Paul Foster of El Paso, Texas, donated $50,000. Companies affiliated with Miguel Fernandez, a wealthy Florida health care investor, gave $50,000 to the PAC and $30,200 came from the GEO Group, which runs private prisons used by the state.

Many of the donors, such as the oil company founded by Mack Chase, are also fundraising sources for GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.

Patriot Majority has reported raising $1.1 million and spending $763,696 during the past month to help Democrats retain their legislative majority. Labor unions are the group’s largest contributors.

Two years ago, Patriot Majority and a GOP organization free from New Mexico’s campaign contribution limits spent nearly $4 million to influence legislative races.

Democrats ended up retaining control of the House and Senate. Senators aren’t up for election until 2016.

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