August 24, 2018

Libertarian Secretary of State nominee drops out of race

Andy Lyman

Sandra Jeff

The race for New Mexico Secretary of State is down to two candidates after the Libertarian nominee Sandra Jeff dropped out on Tuesday.

In a letter to the New Mexico Libertarian Party of New Mexico, Jeff cited “unforeseen personal obligations” as the reason she is ending her campaign. Jeff did not answer calls from NM Political Report, but state Libertarian Attorney General nominee and de facto party spokesman Blair Dunn said Jeff plans to run instead for Vice President of the Navajo Nation.

“Certainly from our party’s standpoint, she’s already been doing quite a bit to promote libertarianism in the [Navajo] Nation and we think it’s really cool and it’s a very big opportunity and big honor to have her take that over and to have that role, especially as a Libertarian,” Dunn said.

Unlike when the Libertarian candidate dropped out in the race for U.S. Senate, there isn’t a high-profile replacement waiting in the wings.

Jeff, a former Democratic state representative, is the second candidate to drop out of the Secretary of State race. Republican Secretary of State nominee JoHanna Cox ended her campaign in June, after the primary election. The Republican Party of New Mexico nominated former U.S. Department of the Interior official Gavin Clarkson to replace her. Clarkson previously lost in the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary.

Jeff is also the second statewide Libertarian nominee to drop out of a race. Blair Dunn’s father and State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn dropped out of his race for U.S. Senate and the state Libertarian Party nominated former Gov. Gary Johnson as Aubrey Dunn’s replacement. Johnson’s entrance to the race significantly changed poll numbers compared to when Aubrey Dunn was the nominee.

It’s unlikely the state Libertarian Party will nominate a Secretary of State Candidate that will flip the polls like Johnson did.

As a legislator Jeff received pushback from the Democratic Party for some of her votes that went against what the party advocated for, including on increasing the minimum wage. Jeff failed to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot for a re-election effort in 2014, when challenged in large part because of those votes, then launched an unsuccessful write-in campaign. In 2016, Jeff lost in the primary election against incumbent Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo.

For now, the race for Secretary of State is down to Democratic incumbent Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Clarkson.

Clarkson joined the race between campaign finance reporting dates, so he has not filed campaign finance reports for the race, but he last reported more than $34,000 cash on-hand for his congressional campaign. A federal court recently ruled that, contrary to Toulouse Oliver’s opinion, federal campaign money can be transferred to state campaigns.

Toulouse Oliver reported more than $155,000 cash on hand in July.

Jeff didn’t raise much money until Aubrey Dunn’s U.S. Senate campaign contributed $5,000. Jeff has almost $3,000 left in her campaign funds, which can be contributed to another candidate, donated or given to the state.