Brad Winter will serve as Secretary of State, Gov. Susana Martinez officially announced on Tuesday. However, 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.
A report by a local TV station says that Gov. Susana Martinez has made a decision on the next Secretary of State—and he hails from Albuquerque. KOB-TV reported on Monday night that Martinez will name Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter as the new Secretary of State. The station cited “sources close to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.” Update: Martinez officially appointed Winter as Secretary of State on Tuesday morning. The story continues as originally written below.
There still isn’t a permanent Secretary of State more than a month after the resignation of Dianna Duran, but the office scheduled a public review of proposed rule changes for later this month. The proposed rule changes will be discussed at a public hearing on December 29; the rules are required to go into effect by the beginning of 2016. This year, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill requiring the Secretary of State to start allowing online updates to existing voter registrations by the beginning of the year allow for online of new voter registrations by the beginning of July 1, 2017. Secretary of State Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz said that a lack of a permanent Secretary of State is no barrier to implementing the rule changes. “The Office of Secretary of State has an Acting Secretary, Mary Quintana who is in charge and leading the office, including the rule-making process,” Ortiz told NM Political Report in an emailed statement. “Given the strict timeframes established by the election code, Acting Secretary Quintana believes it is in the best interests of all voters and citizens that the process continue to move forward.”
According to a memo from her attorney regarding sentencing in a high profile case, former Secretary of State Dianna Duran does not deserve to spend any time in jail. The memo from attorney Erlinda Johnson says Duran is seeking treatment for gambling and that Duran is unlikely to commit any more crimes. The Albuquerque Journal was the first to report on the memo, as well as information from the Public Employees Retirement Association that Duran recently received her first pension check of $4,857.56. Judge Glenn Ellington will review the plea deal and ultimately decide on Duran’s punishment. He said that if there was jail time, he would allow Duran to withdraw her guilty pleas.
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 acting Secretary of State is looking deeper into Phil Griego’s post-candidacy campaign finance spending following a report by New Mexico Political Report. Mary Quintana, who is in charge of the Secretary of State’s office until Gov. Susana Martinez can make an appointment, asked Griego for more information on Griego’s use of campaign finance funds after his resignation earlier this year. The Albuquerque Journal first reported on the October 26 letter. “It has been brought to our attention that possible violations may have occurred,” Quintana wrote. She referred to the 2015 Second Biannual report and expenditures made between April and September.