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Laura Montoya withstood a barrage of attack ads to emerge as the winner Tuesday of the Democratic nomination to serve as state treasurer — the culmination of one of the most combative races of the year, according to partial, unofficial election returns.
Montoya had about 58% of the vote, and her Democratic opponent, Heather Benavidez, had 42%, according to the partial results.
The winner, once certified, will advance to face Republican Harry Montoya in the fall.
The race for the nomination emerged as one of the most contentious of the year as incumbent Treasurer Tim Eichenberg — a Democrat who couldn’t run for reelection because of term limits — launched a series of attack ads bashing Laura Montoya.
Three ethics complaints were also filed in the race, one targeting each of the Democratic candidates, plus another against Eichenberg.
In an interview, Montoya, a former Sandoval County treasurer, said she believes voters “can read through the nonsense” and that her record speaks for itself.
“I’ve been working on campaigns for at least 25 years,” she said. “I’ve never seen this type of negativity, these types of personal attacks.”
Benavidez, chief of staff to Eichenberg, said she is proud of her record of public service and thankful to have met so many supporters, regardless of the outcome.
“I am very grateful to have had this opportunity,” she said.
The State Treasurer’s Office operates as a state bank of sorts, and the treasurer sits on a number of powerful committees, including the State Investment Council.
Joseph Maestas defeated Zack Quintero in a competitive race for the Democratic nomination for state auditor, according to partial election results.
Maestas, a member of the Public Regulation Commission, picked up 56% of the vote. Quintero, a former state ombudsman, had 44%.
Maestas will face Libertarian Robert Jason Vaillancourt in the general election.
Throughout the campaign, Maestas touted his lengthy record in public office. In addition to serving on the PRC, he is a former Española mayor and former Santa Fe city councilor.
Quintero, a consultant who has worked for the city of Santa Fe, said he is well qualified in his own right and would bring a new perspective to the auditor’s office.
They had been competing to succeed Democrat Brian Colón, who opted to run for attorney general rather than for reelection.
The State Auditor’s Office functions as a government watchdog, scrutinizing the bookkeeping of state and local governments, and is empowered to launch special audits to uncover possible fraud and financial abuse.