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New Mexico Gains its First Independent State Legislator

Published on March 5, 2011, by in General.

On January 25, New Mexico Representative Andy Nunez changed his registration from “Democratic” to “independent.” He did so because he had been removed as chair of the Water and Natural Resources Committee. Nunez lost his chairmanship because he opposed Speaker Ben Lujan for another term as speaker. But Lujan was re-elected speaker anyway, and then Lujan used his authority to choose another legislator to head the Water and Natural Resources Committee. Both Lujan and Nunez are 75 years old.

Nunez is the first independent in the New Mexico legislature. No one has been elected to the New Mexico legislature, other than Democratic and Republican nominees, since 1914, when the Socialist Party and the Progressive Party each elected a legislator. New Mexico did not even permit independent candidates to get on the ballot until 1977. The state was forced to provide procedures for independent candidates, because in 1976 independent presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy sued New Mexico over that aspect of its election law, and won the lawsuit. Thanks to Gene Armistead for the news about Nunez.

3 Responses

  1. Gee a purge by a top party hack if a party hack robot does NOT follow the party hack orders.

  2. Phil Sawyer

    Thank you very much, Richard, for mentioning this particular piece of work accomplished by the late, great, Eugene J. McCarthy and his supporters. The name of the case was McCarthy v. Evans and, in the case, the “federal court found unconstitutional the state’s ban on independent candidacy” (quote is from “Progress Report: McCarthy Legal Challenges,” dated May of 1977). Unfortunately, for the Committee for a Constitutional Presidency/McCarthy ’76 campaign, the court did not grant relief before the election.

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