While it’s highly unlikely that Gov. Susana Martinez will choose Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to be the next Secretary of State in New Mexico, a former Secretary of State is likely even more of a longshot—but she applied for the position anyway.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil (known as Vigil-Giron when she was Secretary of State) applied to replace Dianna Duran.
Other names included former State Reps. Sandra Jeff and Janice Arnold-Jones as well as former Albuquerque City Clerk and current Secretary of State employee Amy Bailey.
Oliver publicly announced her application for the position late last month.
The governor can choose anyone for the position, they do not have to submit an application. Martinez has not said when she will make a choice but has said it will come in the next couple of weeks.
It isn’t clear if Martinez will choose someone who will be a placeholder until the 2016 elections or if she will choose someone who will then run for the rest of the term.
Until Martinez makes a choice, Mary Quintana will remain acting Secretary of State.
Meanwhile, presidential elections are just a year away and primaries will take place in June.
The Journal received applications for the Secretary of State position through an open records request to the governor’s office.
Vigil’s controversial past
Vigil was Secretary of State for three terms, once from 1987 to 1990 then again from 1999 to 2006. She was limited to one term after her first election, but a constitutional amendment allowed statewide officials to serve two concurrent terms.
Duran pleaded guilty to six criminal charges, including two felonies, shortly before resigning from the position. She was the third embattled Secretary State in a row and was elected in part because of controversy under the watch of Mary Herrera.
Vigil herself faced indictments related to embezzlement of federal money earmarked for voter education. The case took years to go through the court system; in fact, it took so long that a judge dropped the charges against Vigil because he said the delay violated her right to a speedy trial.
An appeals court upheld the District Court judge’s ruling.
NM Political Report heard that Bailey was a possible choice back in September when Duran’s troubles first began. At the time, Bailey did not return voicemails asking if she was interested in the position.
Bailey is currently general counsel and public policy administrator at the Secretary of State’s office, a position she has held since July.
Jeff was a Democratic State Representative who frequently clashed with leadership and voted with Republicans on high profile legislation. She was eventually removed from a Democratic primary ballot for not having enough valid signatures.
According to the Journal, Jeff did not apply herself but was recommended by former State Sen. Leonard Tsosie and Pueblo of Zia Lt. Gov. Eric Ruiz. Tsosie was known as Jeff’s mentor and himself confounded Senate leadership while in office.
Janice Arnold-Jones, a Republican, has run for various positions since leaving the state House. She unsuccessfully ran for governor, congress and lost in a run-off for Albuquerque city council.
Though she is a Republican, Arnold-Jones isn’t exactly friendly with Martinez. In an article from the liberal Mother Jones magazine, the Albuquerque Republican said Martinez is partially to blame for her congressional loss to Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2012.
Janice Arnold-Jones, the former state representative who lost to Martinez in the 2010 primary, knows Martinez’s vindictiveness firsthand. In 2012, Arnold-Jones was the party nominee in a tough but winnable race to represent an Albuquerque-based congressional district. But Martinez not only didn’t campaign for her—according to Arnold-Jones, the governor told donors not to give to her campaign. Arnold-Jones says that late one night, a month after she’d lost, Martinez called her out of the blue to explain, in a meandering ramble, that she’d withheld her support because Arnold-Jones’ campaign had hired staffers that Martinez felt were her enemies. “How sad is that?” Arnold-Jones told me.
In the article, top Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey also showed that he is no fan of Arnold-Jones, who ran against Martinez in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. He wrote, “I FUCKING HATE THAT BITCH!” in an email during that primary campaign. McCleskey was Martinez’ campaign manager at the time.