Monday marked the first full day in the office not just for New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, but also for two new staffers. Toulouse Oliver was sworn in as Secretary of State late last week, about a month ahead of when she was originally scheduled to take office. Toulouse Oliver’s office announced in a press release that John Blair is the new Deputy Secretary of State and Theresa Chavez-Romero is Toulouse Oliver’s executive assistant. Blair most recently worked for the U.S Department of Interior as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Born and raised in Santa Fe, Blair also ran unsuccessfully in the primary election for the New Mexico state Senate in 2008.
Maggie Toulouse Oliver will take over the Secretary of State’s office on Dec. 9, according to a release from Brad Winter, the current Secretary of State. She will be sworn into office on that day. Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, won election to the position this November over Republican Nora Espinoza. Winter became Secretary of State after Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him last December after the resignation of Dianna Duran.
Hillary Clinton officially won New Mexico and its five electoral votes, after certification of results by the State Canvassing Board Tuesday. The board also certified the need for three recounts in legislative races, one of which heads into the recount with just a nine vote advantage. In the official results, 804,043 voters cast ballots, or 62.4 percent of the 1,289,414 voters who were registered in time to vote in the general election. Hillary Clinton received 48.26 percent of the votes cast in the presidential race, while Republican Donald Trump received 40.04 percent. Trump, however, received the most votes in enough states to win the presidency.
In a disastrous night for Democrats nationwide that saw Republican Donald Trump win the presidency, the state party actually did well, retaking the House of Representatives and expanding the party’s majority in the state Senate. The scope of the advantage in both chambers isn’t yet known, as there could be up to four automatic recounts, two in each chamber. Democrats also won back the Secretary of State seat when Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver easily defeated Republican Nora Espinoza. “What a difference two years makes,” Toulouse Oliver told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, referring to her 2014 loss to Republican Dianna Duran. Duran resigned last year hours before pleading guilty to counts of misusing campaign funds, for which she spent 30 days in jail.
While the race remains too close to call in many key battleground states, national media outlets are starting to project Hillary Clinton will win in New Mexico. With over 435,000 votes already counted, Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump 52 percent to 38 percent. Libertarian and former New Mexico Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has the support of 8 percent of votes counted already. While one pull put the race in New Mexico as close as 2 percent, even the polls with larger margins for Clinton may have underestimated. This wasn’t the only good race for New Mexico Democrats.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made a splash with their TV ads in New Mexico in the final week of campaign 2016. But neither candidate broke into the top three spenders or the top five advertisers during October. Republican Trump spent $219,500 on 466 ads in the state, while Democrat Clinton spent $179,374 on 1,194 ads. (Clinton’s spending went further because she also bought ads on cable and satellite TV, which is less expensive than network TV ads.)
That’s according to an analysis of TV and cable ad contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission. 1st Congressional District Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, still tops the list of spenders during October at $427,463.
A poll by Research and Polling, Inc. for the Albuquerque Journal released Sunday shows Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by 5 percent in New Mexico, days before Election Day. Research and Polling, which conducts polls for the Journal, is the only pollster that uses live interviews to poll in New Mexico this year. The poll, conducted from Nov. 1 to 3, shows 45 percent of likely voters say they will vote for Clinton, while 40 percent say they will vote for Trump. Former Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, saw his support fall to 11 percent.
In a debate characterized by a negative tone not unlike the recent showdowns between presidential candidates, both candidates for New Mexico Secretary of State laid out their visions for the office. Democratic candidate and current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver started by invoking the only reason the office is up for grabs this year in the first place. “We had a secretary of state who violated the very laws and ethics that she was charged with upholding,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m running to restore integrity, transparency and trust in the Secretary of State’s office.”
Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican who beat Toulouse Oliver in the election for the office two years ago, last year pleaded guilty to using her campaign funds to fuel a gambling habit. Duran, a Republican, resigned from office, spent 30 days in jail and is currently on five years of probation.
A new poll for KOB-TV by SurveyUSA shows a double-digit lead for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in New Mexico. The poll also showed a new low for Gov. Susana Martinez when it comes to approval ratings and a wide lead by the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State. The poll shows the Democratic presidential nominee leads the Republican nominee 46 percent to 33 percent. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, has the support of 14 percent while Green Party nominee Jill Stein has the support of 2 percent. In a Research and Polling, Inc. poll commissioned by the Albuquerque Journal that was released earlier this week, Clinton led 35 percent to 31 percent.
A national Republican group highlighted four high priority state races in the upcoming elections. The Republican State Leadership Committee put four New Mexico races in their “16 in ‘16: Races to Watch” list earlier this week, including the high-profile Secretary of State race. Outside of the presidential race, election to replace Dianna Duran as Secretary of State is the lone statewide non-judicial race this fall. That race pits Republican State Representative Nora Espinoza against Democratic Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The other three races on the list are legislative races.