The results were so close that incumbent Democrat Ray Powell still has a chance at retaining his position.
Not every state offers a recount in the case of close elections, but New Mexico does. In this state, an automatic recount is required when the margin of votes between two candidates is “less than one-half of one percent of the total votes cast for that office”.
Powell described election night as a “stressful evening.” But the stress is certainly not over yet. According to the unofficial results, Powell only trails 789 votes behind Dunn. The margin of votes between the opponents is .16 percent.
Dunn’s campaign already declared victory and thanked the state voters for helping him win the election.
“I expect that New Mexicans will hold me accountable for better land management,” Dunn said in a statement. “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.”
But Powell said the game is not over yet.
“I think there is a good chance that once the recount is done, we’ll survive,” he said.
The state Canvassing Board is scheduled to meet on Nov. 25 to approve the results of the election and to order the recount. The board consists of the head of the Supreme Court, the governor and the Secretary of State.
Powell says that while he waits, the land office will continue to run normally because the work is very important for the New Mexico beneficiaries. He said he is “hoping for the best,” but if he ends up losing, he will make sure the transition between land commissioners is as smooth as possible.
“I think the office would change dramatically. It would be a very different approach to land management,” he said. “But we still want to keep the school kids’ best interest in mind.”
Under Powell’s leadership, the New Mexico State Land Office has raised record-breaking revenues in the last few years.
Dunn has not returned any of the News Port reporters’ calls to comment on the possible recount or to discuss his future plans. But Blair Dunn, an attorney who has acted as his father’s spokesperson, said he thinks Powell’s record revenues were mostly due to record oil and gas prices.
Blair Dunn said his father will attempt to record even higher revenues by increasing the efficiency of the office.
For his part, Powell said he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished.
“You’ll have to observe what happens,” Powell said. “We’ve had record revenues. I’m very proud of our honest ethical efforts. The office has never run so well.”