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Republican Joe Skeen Wednesday became the first write-in candidate...

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Republican Joe Skeen Wednesday became the first write-in candidate to win a major New Mexico election, edging the only candidate on the ballot.

With all but 3 percent of the precincts reporting, Skeen, a 53-year-old rancher and businessman, received a total of 56,863 votes to 53,175 for Democrat David King, former state secretary of finance and a nephew of Gov. Bruce King.

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Independent Dorothy Runnels, another write-in candidate, polled 42,887 votes.

Skeen and Mrs. Runnels had lost legal battles to get their names on the ballot for the House seat left vacant by the Aug. 5 death of the independent candidate's husband, Rep. Harold Runnels, D-N.M. Skeen unsuccessfully carried his case to the Supreme Court before mounting his write-in campaign with just two weeks remaining in the race.

King had been chosen over Mrs. Runnels for the Democratic nomination.

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