- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn claimed victory Wednesday in the race for New Mexico land commissioner, but Democratic incumbent Ray Powell refused to concede, saying the contest was still too close to call.

Unofficial results showed Dunn with a slight edge, an edge so small that it would trigger an automatic recount in the statewide race.

In a statement, Dunn’s campaign declared victory and thanked New Mexico voters for putting him over the edge.

“I expect that New Mexicans will hold me accountable for better land management,” Dunn said. “I am looking forward to practicing true conservation for New Mexico, caring for our lands while creating more jobs for New Mexicans that will fund for our children’s education.”

With less than half of a percentage point separating the candidates, Powell said he would not concede.

“It’s something we intend to remind the secretary of state’s office about,” Powell said of the law that calls for recounts in close races. “It’s not over.”

The land commissioner race had attracted deep-pocketed donors such as oil, gas and potash-mining interests.

Meanwhile, Sandy Jones was elected to the District 5 seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Unofficial results showed that Jones won 51 percent of the vote to Republican incumbent Ben Hall’s 49 percent.

It was the only contested seat on regulatory panel, which oversees public utilities, telecommunications and insurance companies.

Jones, the former owner of a construction company, captured his old seat and promised to help bring jobs to the state and push for the commission to regulate itself.

Hall, a Ruidoso businessman, had said he would continue to work to simplify commission rules and regulations and to reorganize the agency. But Hall drew scrutiny after he admitted he had used nearly $7,000 of public campaign financing to pay himself.

The Public Regulation Commission district stretches from Los Lunas south to Dona Ana County and west to Arizona.

In the race for state auditor, Democrat state Sen. Timothy Keller defeated Republican lawyer Robert Aragon on Tuesday in a race that centered on how the auditor’s office should monitor government waste. Unofficial results showed that Keller captured 54 percent of the vote to Aragon’s 46 percent.

Democrat Tim Eichenberg edged out Republican Rick Lopez in a race for an open state treasurer seat.


Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras.

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