2024 Race For Bernalillo County District Attorney Shaping Up To Be Most Expensive Race For DA In It’s History; Other County Races Listed

On March 28, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office announced those who have qualified to run for county offices in Bernalillo County for the June 4 primary with the general election to be held on November 5.  Second Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman will face former United State Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez. Progressive Democrat and Assistant Public Defender Mathias Swonger announced in March that he dropped out of the race.  There is no Republican running so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 4 will be Bernalillo County District Attorney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The postscript to this article reports on the other Bernalillo County elected positions that will appear on the June 4 ballot.


District Attorney Sam Bregman, age 60, is a prominent criminal defense attorney who has handled high profile cases and has over 30 years of trial experience in both civil and criminal law including in his early years as an attorney serving as a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney. He is a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, a former Albuquerque City Councilor (1995 -1999) and a former member of the State  Racing Commission where he served as chairman. Last year, the Governor appointed Bregman Chairman of the Governor’s Organized Crime Commission.  On January 4, 2023 Sam Bregman was appointed Bernalillo County District Attorney by Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham to serve out the remaining 2 years of the 4-year term of Raúl Torrez who was elected Attorney General and took office on January 1, 2023. At the time of his appointment, Bregman said he would not run for a full term as District Attorney.  On Thursday, June 29, 2023, a full 6 months after his appointment as District Attorney, Bregman announced he was running for a full 4 year term.


Damon Martinez, age 58, has over twenty years of prosecutorial experience. For 17 years, he worked at the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he rose from a line prosecutor to a supervisor of the wiretap section prosecuting drug cartels. In 2013 Martinez was appointed United States Attorney for New Mexico by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed in the United States Senate in 2014 and served until March 11, 2017. He holds the rank of Colonel and serves as the Army Staff Judge Advocate  for the New Mexico National Guard.  As United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, Mr. Martinez played a critical role in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) involving the Albuquerque Police Department after a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “culture of aggression” within APD.  In 2018 after Martinez ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House, District 1 coming in second, he was appointed Deputy City Attorney and Senior Policy Advisor working for the City of Albuquerque and APD.

Bregman and Martinez were among 14 attorneys who applied for the appointment by Governor Lujan Grisham after then Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez won the Attorney General contest in November 2022. Bregman announced in June that he planned to run to keep the job. Martinez announced in October his bid to unseat Bregman in the primary.


On  April 1, the New Mexico Secretary of State released the campaign finance reports for all 530 candidates state wide listing them in alphabetical order on the Secretary of State  Campaign Finance Reporting System.  The period covered is for October 3, 2024 to April 1, 2024.  Both Sam Bregman and Damon Martinez are listed as the  number 3  and 4 respectively by the New Mexico Secretary State as the top spenders thus far of all candidates in primary 2024 .

The link to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance  Reporting System  is here:


According to the Secretary of State, District Attorney Sam Bregman has raised $417,601  and former US Attorney  Martinez has raised $302,200 in contributions.  Sam Bregman campaign has spent $98,364 and the Damon Martinez campaign has spent $98,061.

Following is the breakdown of contributions raised, expenditures and the top 5 donors for each candidate:


Total Contributions: $417,601.01

In-Kind Contributions: $14,815.88

Expenditures: $98,363.60

Current Cash Balance: $319,237.41

Current Debt Balance:  $0.00

The five top donors to the Sam Bregman Campaign listed are:

  1. Holmans USA: $11,000
  2. All Amercan Ruidoso Downs, LLC: $11,000
  3. The New Beginings, LLC: $10,000
  4. Stephen Slatton: $5,500
  5. Plaza Ladera, LLC


The $11,000 donation from “All Amercan Ruidoso Downs” to the Bregman campaign should come as no surprise in that long time respected businessman Paul Blanchard is one of the major principals of Ruidoso Downs race track.  DA Sam Bregman was a member of the State  Racing Commission from 2003 to 2009, where he served as Chair.

Other noteworthy contributions made to the Bregman campaign include well known trial attorneys Lisa Curtis who donated $2,000  and  Lisa Torraco who donated $1,000. Torraco is a Republican and was a State Senator from January 15, 2013 to January 15, 2017 and she was also the  Republican nominee for Bernalillo County District Attorney some 20 years ago.


Total Contributions: $302,200

In-Kind Contributions: -0-

Expenditures: $98,061

Current Cash Balance: $204,138

Current Debt Balance: $170,000  (Candidate loan)

The five top donors to the Damon Martinez Campaign listed are:

  1. Damon Martinez (Damon for DA): $170,000.00 (Candidate loan)
  2. Julie Rochman: $5,500.00
  3. Ian McKinnon: $5,500
  4. Jessica Carothers: $5,500
  5. Clinton Marrs: $5,500


Former US Attorney Damon Martinez has went into his own pocket and loaned himself $170,000. Other noteworthy donations to the Damon Martinez campaign include Bueno Foods who gave $2,500, respected trial attorney Antonia Roybal Mack who donated $1,000 and a $2,500 donation from the political action committee “CrossPartisan PAC”.

The link to a related news article is here:



There is no doubt that both Sam Bregman and Damon Martinez are the most qualified candidates that have ever run for Bernalillo County District Attorney given their combined years of experience as trial attorneys and the past positions they have held. Both are considered highly successful in their own right as trial attorneys and both appear to really want the job. They both appear to be running for the right reason which is a dedication to public service.

Both  Bregman and Martinez have raised significant amounts of money for their campaigns and likely will raise far more before the primary.  It is not likely that they are running for the job for the money given that the job pays $156,000 a year and they both will be spending upwards of $500,000 each to get elected.

There is absolutely no doubt that the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney is the most contentious race of all the county races.  It will be the most expensive race for the job in its history. Voters can expect far more money to be raised and a major onslaught of negative TV ads as well a series of dueling press releases.



This election year, there are 7 Bernalillo County elected positions on the ballot.  18 candidates have filed declarations of candidacies and have qualified by submitting the required number of qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters.   In addition to the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney, following is the breakdown of the other Bernalillo County races:

Treasurer Nancy Bearce cannot run for reelection after serving two consecutive terms.  Former New Mexico State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has filed as a Democrat to run for the seat. Eichenberg served as Bernalillo County Treasurer in the 1970s and was the youngest County Treasurer to have ever been elected and also served as a State Senator before running for State Treasurer. Eichenberg will face Democrat Kenneth Scott, who previously served as Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Assessor for Bernalillo County, in the primary. Lelan Morrison will run for the seat as a Republican.

Two Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace County Clerk Linda Stover. The Democratic candidates are Deputy County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh and Karen Montoya, who previously served on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and before that two terms as Bernalillo County County Assessor. The Republican candidates are Robert Kwasny and Clayton Pryor.

District 2 Commissioner and Democrat Steven Michael Quezada cannot run for reelection because he will have served two consecutive four-year terms. Two Democrats, Frank Baca and William Walker, and one Republican, Mary Ingham are now running to fill the seat.

District 3 Commissioner, Democrat Adriann Barboa, is running for reelection. She will have two Democratic primary challengers, Robert Padilla and Laura Nasaria-Chavez, and one Republican opponent, Rene Coronado.

District 4 Commissioner, Republican Walt Benson, is running for reelection with no opposing candidates.

Division 11 Metro Court Judge Shonnetta Estrada will also reclaim her position with no opposition.

The link to the news source relied on is here:


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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.