A historic statewide recount in the race for commissioner of public lands confirmed that Republican Aubrey Dunn has ousted Democratic incumbent Ray Powell. Final numbers hadn’t been posted, but Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said Tuesday night that Dunn was the winner of the State Land Office race. “The outcome of the race did not change,” she said. Dunn had defeated Powell by 704 votes in the first round of tallying after the Nov. 4 general election. “We won again, and we appreciate all the support from the citizens of New Mexico. … I think we can do a lot of good things,” Dunn told the Journal . He will be sworn in, along with other statewide elected officials, on Jan. 1. Powell said he is “really proud of the employees of the Land Office and what we’ve done over the past four years.” The office has never run better, he said. “I wish Mr. Dunn the best of luck in taking care of New Mexico’s trust lands,” Powell added.
Land commissioner is a powerful position that oversees 13 million mineral acres and 9 million surface acres that New Mexico got from the federal government more than a century ago. Under state election law, a difference between candidates of less than one-half of 1 percent of votes cast automatically triggers a recount.
The Dunn-Powell recount was the first since that law was enacted in 2008, and elections officials couldn’t remember a statewide recount before that.
The recount was delayed for a few days after Powell filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court, objecting to the recount procedures outlined by the State Canvassing Board. An agreement was negotiated, and the recount began Thursday in all 33 counties. Most had finished within a couple of days, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Bernalillo County wrapped up on Monday after working through the weekend, and Santa Fe County finished on Tuesday.
The State Canvassing Board meets Thursday to certify the recount results.