Republican secretary of state candidate Nora Espinoza is standing by her decision to not comment on things her party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has said about women — or to speak at all about any race except her own.
“A candidate for secretary of state should never say anything about other races, candidates or ballot questions,” Espinoza said Wednesday in a news release. “That politicizes the office.”
Republicans have been under pressure in recent days as their party has split over whether to support Trump. In a 2005 video released Friday, Trump talks about trying unsuccessfully to have sex with a married woman and claims to kiss and grab women “by the pussy” without their consent.
Some, including Gov. Susana Martinez, have said they won’t support Trump. Others, including U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and state GOP Chairwoman Debbie Maestas, have reaffirmed their support for Trump. The same division is playing out across the nation.
Espinoza’s campaign manager told NMPolitics.net Saturday that the candidate is focused on her own race.
Her opponent in the secretary of state’s, Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver, accused Espinoza on Tuesday of not being honest with New Mexicans and released a television ad seeking to tie Espinoza to Trump. The ad called Espinoza “too extreme for New Mexico.”
Espinoza’s news release pointed out that, while she attended a rally with Trump’s running mate Mike Pence in Albuquerque in August, she didn’t mention Trump or the presidential race during her speech.
“That is my obligation and duty in situations like that,” Espinoza said. “To speak about any other candidate would betray the role of the office.” She added that she will speak at any rally she’s invited to but will only campaign for herself.
Espinoza criticized Oliver for campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“By politicizing the office, Toulouse-Oliver confirms the key difference between her candidacy and mine. I see the office as purely administrative — the chief vote counter of the state,” Espinoza said.
She claimed that Oliver “is openly telling us she will not be an administrator, but instead will be a purely political animal in office — openly supporting or opposing this candidate
or that — and in so doing she will destroy the integrity of our electoral process.”
Espinoza has spoken before about her view that the secretary of state should focus on administering elections. She told NMPolitics.net earlier this year that she doesn’t think the secretary of state should work to increase voter turnout, which she calls “a partisan activity.”
Oliver, meanwhile, pointed to her past work to increase turnout as Bernalillo County’s clerk and told NMPolitics.net she would do the same as secretary of state.
“I’ve long had a passion for voter rights and voter education and encouraging people to participate in the democratic process,” Oliver said.
A recent poll conducted for the Albuquerque Journal had Oliver leading Espinoza 45-31 percent.