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State Sen. Michael Padilla joins lieutenant governor race

The race for the 2018 Democratic lieutenant governor nomination is getting short on elbow room.

State Sen. Michael Padilla

State Sen. Michael Padilla

Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla of Albuquerque said he plans to launch his campaign for the office next week, joining three other candidates already in the race.

Padilla was elected to the state Senate in 2012 – he represents a district that covers most of the South Valley – and was elected to the whip position in 2015. He is a small-business owner whose company builds customer service call centers.

If elected lieutenant governor, Padilla said, he would try to focus on poverty-related issues, citing his work during this year’s legislative session on a bill banning “lunch shaming” for students whose parents don’t pay their cafeteria bills that received national attention.

“I think we need a really strong Democratic ticket to regain the Governor’s Office,” Padilla told the Journal.

The previously announced Democratic lieutenant governor candidates are Rick Miera of Albuquerque; a former longtime lawmaker; Jeff Carr of Eagle Nest, a former member of the Public Education Commission; and David McTeigue of Rio Rancho, a juvenile probation officer.

Another possible candidate, Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque, said Thursday that he’s still weighing a final decision.

DISCLOSURE BACKED: Proposed rules that would require groups spending big money in New Mexico elections to disclose their donors prompted more than 300 written comments – with a hefty majority in support.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office said Thursday that 327 written comments were submitted on the proposed rules before a Wednesday deadline. Of those, 287 were in favor, 34 were opposed and six were deemed to be neutral.

Many of the comments – which will be posted on the secretary of state’s website – cite a perceived need to shine more light on “dark money” in New Mexico political advertising, while others say the rules would encroach on free speech rights.

Several out-of-state groups waded into the debate, including the National Rifle Association, which is in the opposed camp.

Among other requirements, the rules would compel groups active in New Mexico campaigns to disclose their donors if they spend more than $1,000 on political advertising during an election cycle.

Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, says the rules would increase transparency in state elections, are narrowly crafted and would not violate constitutional rights.

Three public hearings on the rules were held this month – in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces – and a decision on whether to make any changes is expected in the coming weeks. The rules could then be implemented in time for the 2018 election cycle.

Dan Boyd: