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The Early Birds

New Mexico politicians build momentum for 2010

July 27, 2009, 12:00 am

Secretary of State
The Secretary of State manages a wide variety of documents, from Uniform Commercial Code filings to the Governor’s executive orders, but the office’s main task is to coordinate elections and administrate the campaign finance and ethics system. 

Mary Herrera (D)
Status: Incumbent
Herrera regularly receives accolades from national democratic leadership organizations and she's currently the president of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Her government career began with a typist job with Bernalillo County and she is now the most senior elected Latina in the country. Her term as Secretary of State, however, has been marked by problems when it comes to the state's incomplete campaign-finance database and inability to solve major problems with the election machine system. Herrera’s office also has come under criticism for the honor-system approach it’s taken to campaign finance violations, though she did act quickly to fine fellow Democrat Jerome Block Jr. for misusing public campaign money. The Secretary of State is paid $85,000 per year.

The War Chest: $20,000. She raised $4,000 in the last 12 months, mostly from individual donors.

The Political Scale: 3=Party Line. As Bernalillo county clerk and secretary of state, Herrera hasn’t had to confront divisive issues within the Democratic Party, but is largely seen as a party loyalist.

Shady Percentile: 55.8% shady. Journalists struggled to evaluate Herrera’s “shadiness,” asking often whether there is “a difference between corruption and complete ineptitude.”

On the Web: No online campaign presence.

Valerie Espinoza (D) 
Status: Says she is “75 percent sure” she will run.
Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza is fairly well respected among county clerks and, during the 2008 election, her office successfully managed record early voting with few complaints from the public. Outside of the clerk’s office, Espinoza is an animal-rights advocate and the host of Santa Fe County Today, a public policy show running on Channel 16 (Community Access).

The War Chest: Espinoza has nothing in her war chest, she tells SFR, but plans to loan her campaign $50,000.

The Political Scale: 3.6. Though several Democrats weren’t very familiar with Espinoza, as a Santa Fe official, Espinoza is perceived to lean toward the more progressive side of the spectrum.

Shady Percentile: 37.3% Journalist say they didn’t know much about Espinoza but point to her public statement that, as elections officials, county clerks should not get involved in candidates campaigns. This was in response to the news that Public Regulation Commission candidate Jerome Block Jr. had paid San Miguel County Clerk Paul Maez for campaign coordination and paid Maez' band for playing a rally that never actually happened. San Miguel County was the only county Block carried in the primary.

On the Web: No online campaign presence.

Pollster Prediction: Mary Herrera. “That race will come down to fundraising and ability to get your message out,” Sanderoff says. “I guess you’d have to say the early odds would be on Mary because she’s the incumbent, but you can not dismiss Valerie [Espinoza] assuming she runs a great race.”


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