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Christmas again at Secretary of State's office

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Secretary of State Mark Martin has revived a tradition of sending the government's best wishes for a Merry Christmas to the legislature, Congress, Capitol employees and others. Former Secretary of State Sharon Priest broke with the custom when she began her term in 1994, sending a secular holiday greeting, as did Charlie Daniels, or so his spokesperson, Janet Harris, in the state auditor's office, recalls. Daniels did not send a card out at all in 2010, his last year in office, Harris said. (Priest successor Bill McCuen's practice could not be determined.)

"It was our decision to put Merry Christmas on there, and we stand by it," Martin's spokesman, Alex Reed, said in an email to the Times, which had been asked about the religious message and the cost. The office spent $1,162.75 for the cards, which picture the state Capitol, and $394.65 for postage, Reed said.

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