Secretary of State race tops $1 million

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Fundraising and spending in the special election for secretary of state topped $1 million.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, was sworn in Friday to replace interim Secretary of State Brad Winter.

She defeated Republican Rep. Nora Espinoza, of Roswell, with 56 percent of the vote in the November election.

Toulouse Oliver outraised Espinoza $751,027 to $364,440, and outspent the Republican $740,052 to $353,924.

The Democrat received 6,413 individual donations averaging $117 each to Espinoza’s 975 donations averaging $374 each.

Winter, an educator and Albuquerque city councilman, was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez a year ago and said he wouldn’t run for the office.

He replaced Dianna Duran, who was charged with more than 60 criminal counts in August 2015. She resigned and pleaded guilty to six charges, including two felonies, related to campaign finance issues. Duran served 30 days in jail.

Toulouse Oliver emphasized campaign finance reform during the contest, while Espinoza advocated stricter identification laws for voters.

Then-Secretary of State Winter dismissed campaign finance complaints filed against both candidates, though he recommended that Espinoza amend her reports to provide more detail for credit card purchases.

But Espinoza never filed amendments to her regular filings, even when the Santa Fe New Mexican pointed out she incorrectly listed the name and address for payments to McCleskey Media Strategies.

That company is operated by Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey and also does work for numerous other Republican PACs and candidates.

In her final report, Espinoza listed expenses of $1,500 to repair the front of her car, $891 for new tires and $45 to fix a window chip. She said the car’s front headlights were damaged during a campaign trip.

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