Secretary of state race down to two

The New Mexico secretary of state’s race is down to two candidates – at least for now.

Sandra Jeff, a Democrat-turned-Libertarian who previously served three terms as a state representative, recently withdrew from the contest citing “unforeseen personal obligations.”

Her decision left incumbent Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, and Republican Gavin Clarkson as the two candidates standing in the race.

Clarkson himself was a replacement for fellow Republican JoHanna Cox, who dropped out of the race in June after the Journal reported she had been sued for legal malpractice three times in the past five years.

The state Libertarian Party now faces an Aug. 28 deadline to nominate a replacement for Jeff on the November general election ballot.

Libertarian Party chairman Chris Luchini said Friday that two people have expressed possible interest in being fill-in candidates, but had not yet made up their minds.

He also said Jeff, who could not be reached for comment, might have dropped out of the race in order to run instead for vice president of the Navajo Nation.

PEARCE HITS BACK: After coming under fire earlier this week in a television ad launched by a political committee backed by a national Democratic group, Republican Steve Pearce is hitting back.

His gubernatorial campaign launched a TV ad Friday that criticizes the allegations levied by Stronger New Mexico, a fledgling PAC backed by the Democratic Governors Association, as provably false.

In part, the Pearce ad cites reports from FactCheck.org, a nonprofit group, that found flaws in the allegation – included in the DGA-funded ad – that Pearce was one of the most “corrupt” members of Congress.

Pearce’s TV ad also describes the attacks against him as “negative ads” from his opponent, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, despite the fact Lujan Grisham’s campaign did not pay for it.

The new 30-second spot started airing Friday morning on Albuquerque network stations, Pearce campaign adviser Kevin Sheridan said. He also said the ad buy was comparable in size to the Democratic-funded ad, which cost roughly $275,000.

Dan Boyd: dboyd@abqjournal.com

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