" People are funny: You’ll criticize your neighboring states’ earmark projects, but applaud the [ones] that benefit your state."—Political analyst Brian Sanderoff
Election debate season is coming and, with it, the inevitable question of whether it’s good to be a cash cow.
“Voters tend to dislike earmarks in a theoretical sense—however, when their community gets a $25 million earmark project, they applaud it,” founder of the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc. Brian Sanderoff tells SFR. “It plays both ways.”
Using a database created by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, SFR pieced together who’s bringing the most money into New Mexico—like it or not.
The graph shows the total earmarks for each of New Mexico’s senators and representatives. Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman has been New Mexico’s heaviest hitter for the past three fiscal years, helping the state win a consistent spot in the top 12 for per capita earmarks. (This year’s booty: $77 per New Mexico resident.)
At the low end of the spectrum is Rep. Ben Ray Luján with $10.7 million.
But according to Tom Mullins, Luján’s Republican opponent in this November’s 3rd District congressional race, less is more.
“We must drastically reduce the pork,” Mullins writes SFR in an email. “I will sign the Republican pledge of Zero earmarks for this next Congress.”
That’s a popular viewpoint—but it has a natural counter: Without earmarks, certain projects may not happen.
“Wastewater treatment facilities, economic development centers and after school programs are important,” Luján spokesman Mark Nicastre writes in an email to SFR. “That’s why Rep. Luján reaches out
to constituents and solicits requests.”