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Campaign fund ruling could benefit GOP secretary of state pick

SANTA FE — The state GOP’s pick for secretary of state could benefit from a fellow Republican’s lawsuit about transferring federal campaign funds for use in state-level races.

Gavin Clarkson, a professor from Las Cruces, reported in May having $54,816 in his congressional campaign account.

He ultimately came in third in a four-way GOP primary for an open southern New Mexico congressional seat, but he was selected last weekend by the Republican Party State Central Committee to be the party’s secretary of state candidate after the previous nominee withdrew from the race.

Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for governor, won a federal court ruling last year that set a precedent and allowed him to transfer more than $783,000 from his federal campaign account to his gubernatorial campaign.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, had previously said such a transfer would violate the state’s campaign contribution limits, which took effect after the 2010 general election.

Clarkson will be running in the November election against Toulouse Oliver, who was first elected in a special election in 2016. Libertarian candidate Sandra Jeff will also be on the ballot.