After recount, Dunn defeats Powell
The recount of the votes for the New Mexico land commissioner race confirms Republican Aubrey Dunn as the winner of the contest.
The results issued Dec. 17 by the Secretary of State office show Dunn with a margin of 656 votes over incumbent Democrat Ray Powell. The recount was conducted by clerks in all 33 counties and was finished Dec. 16.
The recount was triggered by a state law that requires an automatic recount when the margin is “less than one-half of one percent of the total votes cast for that office.”
After the Nov. 4 general election, Dunn’s campaign led by a margin of 704 votes, equivalent to a margin of votes of .14 percent.
The land commissioner race recount was the first automatic recount since the law was enacted in 2008.
The recount was originally scheduled for Dec. 8 but was delayed after the state Supreme Court granted a petition by Powell to suspend it. Powell said he and his team objected to some procedures that did not meet certain requirements that were mandated by the law.
At a hearing with the state Supreme Court on Dec. 10, an agreement was reached and the recount was approved to begin on Dec. 11.
The State Canvassing Board will meet Dec. 18 to certify the results of the race and officially declare Dunn the winner.
As the new land commissioner, Dunn will oversee 13 million subsurface acres and 9 million surface acres of trust land. Trust land generates revenue for 22 beneficiaries in New Mexico, which include public schools, universities, and hospitals. The land commissioner is in charge of generating the most profit possible for these beneficiaries while still protecting the long-term health of the land.
Powell is the state’s longest-serving land commissioner, having served back-to-back terms from 1993-2002. He currently is finishing his third term.
While Powell was in charge, the state land office raised the highest amounts of revenue in state history. During the past three years, the office generated more than $2 billion for beneficiaries, according to the New Mexico State Land Office website.
During the campaign, Powell said he was proud of what his team accomplished and that he thinks the office “has never run so well.”
However, Dunn, a self-described businessman and rancher, said he could do better than his opponent whom he accused of having an “extreme environmentalist agenda”.
During Dunn’s own campaign, Blair Dunn, an attorney who acted as his father’s spokesperson, said his father would increase the efficiency of the office and generate more revenue by being more aggressive in maximizing oil and gas drilling on the state.
On Dec. 16, Dunn posted on his Facebook page that it is time to get his transition team in place and thanked everyone who helped him achieve his victory.
“Now, let’s finally get down to business!” he said.
Before the recount was over, Powell said all he wanted was to make sure every person knew his/her vote was being counted.
“In the end, no matter how it turns out, at least the citizens of New Mexico can know it was a fair election,” he said.
Powell now accepts the results and on Dec. 16 told the Albuquerque Journal that he wishes Dunn “the best of luck in taking care of New Mexico’s trust lands.”
Dunn will be sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2015.