Court throws out challenge of Libertarian congressional candidate

A New Mexico state district judge ruled on Thursday that a Libertarian candidate for Congress will remain on the ballot for the June 1 special election to fill a 1st Congressional District vacancy. 

Santa Fe judge Glenn Ellington ruled from the bench that claims challenging the validity of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s major party status were not sufficient enough to remove the party’s candidate from a special election ballot. 

Chris Manning is the state’s Libertarian Party nominee for the special congressional election to fill the vacant seat after former congresswoman Deb Halaand was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Interior. Ginger Grider and James Clayton, both members of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico filed a legal challenge, arguing that the Libertarian Party should not have been granted major party status and that the party broke its own rules by nominating Manning. Ellington ruled Grider and Clayton did not have standing to challenge the Libertarian Party’s major party status and that her claim that Manning was nominated against the party’s rules was not substantial enough to move the case forward. 

Grider and Clayton’s attorney, Blair Dunn, told NM Political Report that he plans to appeal Ellington’s ruling and accused the court of being steeped in partisan politics. 

“We’re concerned that the court system is continuing to prop up the party system and the denial of standing to members of the party, and denying them even the opportunity to present the evidence is part of why political parties have become such a problem in this country,” Dunn said. 

Dunn’s father Aubrey Dunn is also running for the 1st Congressional District seat, but as an independent candidate. Aubrey Dunn’s campaign ads position him as a candidate tired of partisan politics. Dylan Lange, general counsel for the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office, praised the court’s decision in a statement on Thursday. 

“We are pleased that the Court’s ruling affirms that the Secretary of State’s Office appropriately followed the law,” Lange said. 

Manning also said he was pleased with Ellington’s decision and that he’s ready to move on and focus on his campaign.  

“I’m glad the judge saw what we saw and this case had no merit,” Manning said. 

The crux of Grider and Clayton’s challenge of the Libertarian Party’s major party status was that no Libertarian received at least five percent of the vote in the last general election.

Libertartian candidate files suit against NM Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver

A New Mexico Libertarian candidate for the state court of appeals is suing New Mexico’s secretary of state in federal court, claiming his and Libertarian voters’ civil rights were violated in the process of tabulating votes from the state’s primary election. 

That candidate, Stephen Curtis, is representing himself as well as the state’s Libertarian Party, the party’s state chairman and a registered Libertarian voter, who is also running for a state House position. 

The lawsuit against New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver claims that Curtis, who was a write-in candidate, received “well above the 230-vote threshold” to move on to the state’s general election. Even though Curtis did not face a primary opponent, state law requires write-in candidates to receive a certain number of votes to be placed on the general election ballot. 

The lawsuit names Curtis, the state Libertarian Party, Libertarian Party Chairman Chris Lucini as well as Ranota Banks, a Libertarian voter and Libertarian candidate for House District 15, as plaintiffs. The suit asks a federal judge to stop enforcement of a state provision requiring payment for a recount and to force a recount. 

“[Toulouse Oliver] abused the authority of her office and, while acting under color of law and with knowledge of Plaintiffs’ established rights, used her office to violate Plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,” Curtis wrote. 

The suit argues that in one county alone, Curtis received enough votes to qualify him for the general election. 

“There is significant and substantial evidence that write-in votes for Mr. Curtis were not correctly tallied,” Curtis wrote. “For example, a Bernalillo County website reflects that 270 write-in votes were case [sic] in the Libertarian Party Primary for Court of Appeals.”

The suit also challenges a state provision that requires candidates who request a recount to cover the cost though cash or a bond. In Curtis’ case, he said he was asked to pay more than $3 million to conduct a recount. 

“The burden in question to post a multi-million-dollar bond or cash, to obtain a recount to vindicate the candidate’s and voters’ interests, particularly with substantial evidence of error, imposes a severe burden on the Plaintiffs’ associational interests, and the rights of voters to cast ballots,” Curtis wrote. 

The suit also accuses Toulouse Oliver and her office of deliberately ignoring voting total inconsistencies and voting machine errors, therefore violating the rights of voters. 

“[Toulouse Oliver’s] actions have deprived the voters for Mr. Curtis of their right to vote, despite knowledge of voting machine errors that were not counting votes, and in violation of equal protection of law,” Curtis wrote. 

Curtis was 26 votes short of moving on to the general election, according to Curtis’s suit. 

There are two candidates currently qualified for the respective court of appeals spot in the general election: Republican Gertrude Lee and incumbent Democratic candidate Shammara Henderson, who was appointed this year to fill the vacancy of retired judge Moncia Zamora.

Mr. Johnson wants to go to Washington

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate and former two-term Republican governor Gary Johnson is killing time outside a Starbucks in Los Alamos between campaign events. Technically he shouldn’t  be here at all—or, at least not running for office. On election night in 2016, Johnson told NM Political Report he was done with politics after his second presidential run.  Asked about that night, Johnson answers the question he knows is coming next. “I can’t be believed,” Johnson interrupted sarcastically.

Straight party issue spurs Portales Libertarian to run for Secretary of State

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s decision to add straight-party ticket voting to November’s ballot has caused waves across the political party spectrum. But, besides uniting independents, Libertarians and Republicans in a state Supreme Court challenge, Toulouse Oliver’s proposed action has spurred one Portales woman to try and take over as the state’s election administrator. Libertarian Ginger Grider said Toulouse Oliver’s decision to put  a straight-party ticket option on the ballot in November “greatly influenced” her decision to run for Secretary of State. A straight-party option on the ballot would allow voters to mark a political party of their choice as an indication for votes further down the ballot. By marking a ballot for the Democratic Party, for example, every Democrat on the ballot receives a vote.

Libertarian Secretary of State nominee drops out of race

The race for New Mexico Secretary of State is down to two candidates after the Libertarian nominee Sandra Jeff dropped out on Tuesday. In a letter to the New Mexico Libertarian Party of New Mexico, Jeff cited “unforeseen personal obligations” as the reason she is ending her campaign. Jeff did not answer calls from NM Political Report, but state Libertarian Attorney General nominee and de facto party spokesman Blair Dunn said Jeff plans to run instead for Vice President of the Navajo Nation. “Certainly from our party’s standpoint, she’s already been doing quite a bit to promote libertarianism in the [Navajo] Nation and we think it’s really cool and it’s a very big opportunity and big honor to have her take that over and to have that role, especially as a Libertarian,” Dunn said. Unlike when the Libertarian candidate dropped out in the race for U.S. Senate, there isn’t a high-profile replacement waiting in the wings.

Johnson ready to shake up U.S. Senate race

Gary Johnson is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. At least that seems to be the message from the former two-term Republican governor, two-time Libertarian presidential candidate and now Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico. “I am angry at the two-party system, I think we’ve all been hoodwinked to believe these are our only choices,” Johnson said at a press conference on Thursday. The press conference was the first time Johnson spoke publicly as a U.S. Senate candidate since the Libertarian Party of New Mexico nominated him earlier this month. The party filed paperwork to formally nominate Johnson earlier this week.

Former Gov. Johnson in Senate race

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico filed paperwork to name former governor Gary Johnson as its nominee for U.S. Senate. The Secretary of State updated the listing of candidates to include Johnson Tuesday morning after the party filed at 9:30 on Monday, the office said. He will face incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican contractor Mick Rich in the November general election. The Libertarian Party of New Mexico Central Committee voted Johnson as its candidate earlier this month after State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, the original nominee, withdrew from the race. For about a week after the nomination, while supporters anticipated a run, Johnson stayed silent on his plans.

As Johnson ponders run for Senate, some call for Republican candidate to drop out

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico nominee for U.S. Senate, is still mum on whether he will run. But, that hasn’t stopped supporters and political adversaries from chiming in on his candidacy. Johnson has yet to even launch a campaign, but some of his supporters are calling for his possible Republican opponent, Mick Rich, to drop out of the race. Those supporters say internal polling suggests with Rich out of the picture, Johnson would win in a head-to-head race against U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Too much competition?

NM Libertarian Party picks Gary Johnson as US Senate nominee

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico chose a replacement for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate race on Saturday. But their choice, former Republican Governor and two-time Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson still has not decided whether he will accept the offer. In a statement, Johnson repeated his previous remarks, saying he wants to see if he has a chance at winning. “A major factor is, simply, whether I can win,” Johnson said. “When I set out to summit Mt.

Dunn out of Senate race, Johnson hints at taking his place

A candidate switch-up is likely in the works for the Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s run for the U.S. Senate. Libertarian Senate candidate Aubrey Dunn announced Monday that will exit the race and asked high-profile Libertarian Gary Johnson to take his place. In a press release, Dunn said he wants to devote more time to his current role as State Land Commissioner. Now the question is whether Johnson, a former Republican governor and Libertarian presidential candidate, will take his place. If Johnson decides to run for Senate, it would create a considerable shake-up in the three-way race between Republican Mick Rich and Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich.