Jeff Apodaca

Apodaca is the son of former governor Jerry Apodaca. He's had a successful career in the television industry and currently hunts for promising startups. He's never held elected office, something he's touting on the campaign trail.

  • Top Issue: Accessing the state’s permanent funds. “Apo” wants to take more than $1 billion and use the money for various stimulus programs. While he wants that permanent fund money, he plans to use it to leverage more money from the private sector and, in the process, create what he hopes are 225,000 jobs.
  • Cannabis: Apodaca beat cancer as a teenager and was one of the first to use medical marijuana as part of a brief legal research period in the 1970s. He’s in favor of recreational marijuana, saying it could bring in revenue for the state and drive growth in both agriculture and research.
  • Raid the Fund? He’s carrying the flag. The issue may be how he plans to do it. Getting more money of out of the funds takes a constitutional amendment, and spending that money someplace other than where it’s spent now takes an act of Congress. (For real.) Apodaca wants a 5 percent additional distribution.
  • Economy:  A big part of his plan hinges on attracting outside investment and leveraging in-state advantages. Apodaca would try to spend up to 9 percent of the state’s severance tax fund (which isn’t limited in where it can be spent, like others are) to invest directly in New Mexico-based tech companies.
  • Achilles’ Heel: His lack of experience. Apodaca’s seen businesses struggle, but turning around state government is another animal. He’ll need charm, guile and rock-solid strategy to make his fund-grab plan work.
  • He/She is a little like … Alan Webber. Apodaca’s success in business is unquestioned. He’s taken a more progressive stance than the rest of the field and arrived with a well-packaged message. He plays as an outsider, but has a political history.

Joe Cervantes

An attorney by trade, architect by training and farmer by family heritage, the Las Cruces legislator has served since 2001. Cervantes is part of the legal team that won the largest plaintiff's award in state history: $165 million.

  • Top Issue: It’s hard to pin down a top issue for Cervantes. It may be reform. An unflagging pragmatist, he’s long favored an independent constitutional convention to make state government more efficient. A number of his proposals would focus on improving how government works.
  • Cannabis: He supported medical marijuana as a lawmaker and says he’d get rid of the cap on the number of plants providers can cultivate. He’d also work to decriminalize marijuana possession. He’s open to recreational marijuana, though wants to see revenue studies and an intoxication limit.
  • Raid the Fund? He’s on the record supporting increased distributions to support early childhood education, to include pre-kindergarten programs. He’s not in favor of expanding what the fund can be used for.
  • Economy: He would try to bump the minimum wage to $15 an hour in his first year. Again, Cervantes would look to reform government to better coordinate training programs with successful economic sectors. He’s big on expanding broadband and wireless networks.
  • Achilles’ Heel: Connecting with voters. Cervantes had to beat a legal challenge to his spot on the ballot and doesn’t have the statewide profile of Lujan Grisham or the advertising moxy and pedigree of Apodaca.
  • He/She is a little like … Hillary Clinton. General election Hillary. Cervantes’ qualifications are unimpeachable. He has a reputation of being both effective in the Legislature and willing to sit down with Republicans to hear their side of an issue. His challenge is convincing voters.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham has served three terms in Congress, which she says is plenty. She was cabinet secretary for two social service agencies under Gov. Bill Richardson. She's held public positions or elected office for almost three decades.

  • Top Issue: The economy. She says economic insecurity has played a huge role in many of the state’s other problems. She sees education and robust infrastructure investment as keys to creating a better workforce and more opportunity.
  • Cannabis: She’s in favor of it, but shy of going all-in. Lujan Grisham helped pass the current medical marijuana law and wants to make sure a recreational cannabis program wouldn’t hurt the medicinal side of things. She also wants workplace protections and rules for intoxication limits.
  • Raid the Fund? You know it, to the tune of $285 million over five years before things get rolling. That’s $57 million more a year, or about one-third of a percent more than the current distribution from the permanent funds. She envisions 1,729 early childhood learning classrooms, each with a teacher and teacher’s assistant.
  • Economy: She wants to increase transmission capacity for renewable energy and bump the portfolio standard to demand 50 percent by 2030. Lujan Grisham hopes to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour, then $12 an hour in four years. She’d try to remove the $50 million annual cap on film production tax credits.
  • Achilles’ Heel: She tries to do too much. When Lujan Grisham digs in, she’s a force to be reckoned with. But all that energy needs focus.
  • He/She is a little like … Bill Richardson. Lujan Grisham shares his informal style and gregarious personality, and also his impatience and desire to do an awful lot.