- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The results of the recount in the race for New Mexico land commissioner, one of the most powerful positions in state government, confirm Republican Aubrey Dunn has ousted Democrat incumbent Ray Powell.

The secretary of state’s office said the counting wrapped up late Tuesday. The results show Dunn with a margin of 656 votes over Powell out of nearly 500,000 ballots cast in the race. The original difference had Dunn in the lead by 704 votes.

Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said seven counties completed the recount with no changes to their previously reported totals, while 14 counties reported changes of less than five votes for both candidates.

The largest discrepancies were in Sandoval and Colfax counties, where a combined 269 fewer ballots were accounted for than were reported on Election Night, Shearer said. In some counties, qualification of provisional ballots added to the vote totals.

The State Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet Thursday to certify the results.

“Now let’s finally get down to business,” Dunn said on his Facebook page.

Dunn will be sworn in with other statewide elected officials on Jan. 1.

Powell told the Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/13cw4Gj) he’s proud of what his office has been able to accomplish in the last four years and he wished Dunn luck in taking care of the state’s trust lands.

The land commissioner oversees 13 million mineral acres and 9 million surface acres. In 2014 alone, the agency brought in a record of more than $800 million from oil and gas, renewable energy development and other activities on state trust land. The money goes to public schools, hospitals, universities and other state projects.

This marked the first recount in a statewide race since New Mexico enacted a law in 2008 for automatic recounts when the margin between the top two candidates is less than 0.5 percent.

The recount was delayed when Powell filed a petition with the state Supreme Court, challenging the procedures spelled out by the State Canvassing Board. An agreement was reached last week and the count began.

Powell was the longest serving land commissioner in the state’s history. He has held the job since 2011 and also headed the Land Office from 1993 to 2002.

Dunn, a rancher and businessman, said the Land Office hasn’t been aggressive enough in maximizing oil and gas drilling on trust lands.

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