December 15, 2015

It’s official: Martinez appoints Winter as Secretary of State

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Brad Winter will serve as Secretary of State, Gov. Susana Martinez officially announced on Tuesday.

Brad WinterHowever, the Albuquerque city councilor will not seek reelection. This will open the door for a statewide election in 2016 with no incumbent.

Many had thought that the person Martinez chose to replace former Secretary of State Dianna Duran—who resigned nearly two months ago—would be the likely Republican nominee in 2016.

“Brad Winter has the integrity, skills, and temperament to step in as Secretary of State and serve New Mexicans with distinction,” Martinez said in a statement. “He’s a proven leader, routinely praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his experience as a long-time administrator who has managed large budgets, capital and information technology projects, and sizeable staffs will be key to overseeing a successful and well-run election next year.”

The Secretary of State is a key position when it comes to administering elections. Next year is a presidential election, which means higher turnout in elections.

“I’m honored to have the Governor’s trust and confidence to serve as New Mexico’s Secretary of State,” said Winter. “These are unique circumstances, but I believe that we will be able to rise to the challenge and uphold New Mexico’s election laws, operate an efficient Secretary of State’s office, and oversee a professionally managed presidential-year election.”

While the governor’s statement says Winter will serve through January 1, the state constitution says the person filling a vacancy “shall hold office until the next general election, when his successor shall be chosen for the unexpired term.” This means when elections are certified, the new Secretary of State will take over.

KOB-TV reported on Martinez’s decision last night.

Since Duran’s resignation, Mary Quintana has been serving as acting Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State is a key position when it comes to administering elections. Next year is a presidential election, which means higher turnout in elections.

Duran resigned in late October shortly before pleading guilty on six counts, including two felonies related to campaign spending.

The chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico criticized the choice and said that Martinez appointed a “crony” and highlighted campaign funds that went to pay political consultant Jay McCleskey.

“We are deeply concerned that Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed to be our state’s elections watchdog a man who has clear and direct ties to scandal-ridden political consultant Jay McCleskey,” Deb Haaland said. “How can Brad Winter possibly hope to clean up the Martinez administration’s mess when he’s directly connected to the players in the scandals?”

Duran was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Monday, though the judge allowed her to withdraw her plea if she wishes to contest the full 65-charges. She must make a decision by Wednesday.

Since Duran’s resignation, Mary Quintana has been serving as acting Secretary of State.

Winter is the first man to hold the position since Manuel Martinez, who served from 1919 to 1922, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Winter is the longest-serving current city councilor, having served since 1999, and won reelection just two months ago. According to the release announcing his appointment, Winter holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma and a Doctorate of Education from the University of New Mexico.

Update: Added quotes from the Democratic Party of New Mexico chairwoman.

Correction: Added information about the term of the person filling a vacancy and language from the state constitution on his term.