This story was co-published by USA Today.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In New Mexico's Statehouse, Jimmie Hall is something of a fixture: The veteran Republican representative has served District 28 in this sun-dried, high-desert city for seven terms.
For much of Hall's tenure, the district, which lies along the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, has been reliably conservative, so much so that he's coasted to victory without having to face any Democratic opponent in his three most recent re-election bids.
But this year is different. In November, Hall will square off against Melanie Stansbury, who is among a slew of young, progressive Democrats running for office at every level of government across the country.
It's a hyperlocal race to represent about 30,000 New Mexicans. What's surprising, though, is how much others outside of the Land of Enchantment are participating in it. More than one out of every three dollars that the two candidates have raised so far came from out of state — the latest sign that America is paying attention to what happens even in the tiniest of state legislative districts in a momentous year when so much is at stake.
To fend off Stansbury's challenge, Hall has stepped up his fundraising game: His war chest of $65,000 is already bigger than what he raised for his bids in 2016 and 2014 combined. Almost a third of it came from out of state — mostly in $400-to-$5,000 chunks from oil and gas companies based in California, Oklahoma and Texas.
Still, Stansbury has so far outperformed her opponent and raised about $124,000, netting almost 40 percent from out-of-state donors who hail from as far as Illinois, Oregon and Vermont. But her money came mostly in small amounts — as little as $1 apiece.
This level of out-of-state support isn't unique this year, nor is Stansbury's fundraising prowess. Nationwide, many Democrats running for state-level offices from governor to state representative are also hauling in a significant amount of donations from across state lines, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign finance data collected by the National Institute on Money in Politics.