New Mexico may pioneer public financing of lower-court campaigns

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Under a bill aimed at reducing reliance on private campaign donations in the judiciary, New Mexico could become the first state to offer public campaign financing to candidates seeking to serve as judges in general jurisdiction courts that handle the bulk of criminal and civil-law trials.

The bill from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and allied Sen. Katy Duhigg of Albuquerque is headed toward a likely Senate floor vote this week.

Supporters say public financing can open the door to a more diverse set of judicial candidates.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill at Friday’s committee hearing.