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.

Johnson weighing Senate run, as Dunn poised to drop out

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Aubrey Dunn is set to drop out of his race and a high-profile Libertarian is considering taking his place. Dunn’s son and Libertarian candidate for New Mexico Attorney General Blair Dunn confirmed that Aubrey Dunn, the state land commissioner, is dropping out of the race and will release more information next week. Former Republican governor and 2016 Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson is considering taking Aubrey Dunn’s place, according to his former campaign manager, Ron Nielson. Nielson told NM Political Report on Friday that Johnson was “weighing it out” and would decide to run if he determines it’s a winnable race. Earlier this week, Nielson’s media company, The Jack News, published an interview between Nielson and Johnson in which the former two-term governor hinted at getting back into politics, despite his previous statements that he was done running for office.

Libertarians miss general election ballot for governor

New Mexicans likely won’t see a Libertarian candidate for governor on the ballot in November. While still unofficial, the results of a recount conducted Wednesday show the party’s primary candidates for those races lacked enough write-in votes to make it onto the general election ballot. Bob Walsh, a gubernatorial hopeful, and Robin Dunn, running for lieutenant governor, both entered the race on the Libertarian ticket after the filing deadline, forcing them to run as write-in candidates. Per state law, Walsh and Dunn each needed 230 votes in the primary election to be included as candidates in November. Walsh was short by 44 votes, and Dunn by 40, to make it onto the general election ballot.

Former chair files complaint against the Libertarian Party of New Mexico

A recently-minor political party in New Mexico may being seeing its first indication of political growing pains. At the very least, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico has shown that even a once-fringe party is not immune from accusations of impropriety. A former state Libertarian Party chair filed a formal complaint Monday against the New Mexico party alleging certain members violated state law, rendering its current candidates “illegitimate.”

Former party chair Elizabeth Honce filed the complaint with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, along with affidavits from five other people who were present at the convention. They recounted an act during the party’s 2017 state convention she says violated state law. In 2017, Honce said, some party members changed the convention schedule, effectively staging a coup d’état for a new group of party leadership.

Liberating New Mexico

Blair Dunn always knew he was a Libertarian, but instead registered as a Republican. Like Hermey the Elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Blair has found solace on his own island of misfits. Blair’s island is the Libertarian Party of New Mexico. At almost seven feet tall with his signature cowboy boots and bow tie, Dunn will never be mistaken for an elf. He’s easy to spot, even in the most crowded room.

At its first major party convention, New Mexico Libertarian Party picks primary candidates

For the first time in state history, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico held a pre-primary convention to vote nominees for state and federal offices. Because all six candidates were unopposed, there wasn’t the contention usually expected at major party nominating conventions. Instead, party members focused on celebrating the party’s move towards prominence and public visibility in the New Mexico political sphere. “This is, by far and away, the most visibility the party has successfully achieved in the state,” Libertarian Party of New Mexico Vice-Chair Helen Milenski said. Still, the group of about 100 attendees spent the day meeting the candidates and listening to their stump speeches.

Notes from the field: Candidate filing day

SANTA FE—It was a political nerd’s dream. Dozens of people aiming for state office filed through the elevator doors into the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday to navigate the three-stage process of declaring their candidacy. The day offered  a rare early opportunity for candidates and their staff to interact with one another—which included a lot of smiles and polite handshakes, even across party lines. The process was straightforward—there were three stations to verify and confirm paperwork and petition signatures—and took about 20 minutes for most candidates. Here are my notes from the field:
9:05 a.m.
I’m running late, because I’m from New Mexico.

Libertarian Party gets a boost in NM

Something major happened with the Libertarian Party of New Mexico yesterday—it officially became a major party. After Gov. Susana Martinez issued her biennial primary election proclamation late Monday, the New Mexico Secretary of State announced that New Mexico’s liberty and limited government-minded group will have equal standing with the Democratic and Republican parties for the first time in New Mexico history. Monday, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, on a rooftop deck in Old Town Albuquerque, officially announced its slate of candidates for everything from Congress to State Land Commissioner. In most of those races, candidates will be facing off against uncontested Republicans and lots of Democrats. With election day about eight months off, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico has three statewide and three congressional hopefuls collecting signatures to qualify as official candidates.

Sandra Jeff changes party registration to Libertarian, eyes Secretary of State position

Former State Representative and former State Senate candidate Sandra Jeff can now add one more “former” before her name: former Democrat. Jeff updated her voter registration to the Libertarian Party Thursday afternoon at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office with the intention of running for Secretary of State. “I want to stop corruption, and I feel that I have every right to work with the constituents within the state of New Mexico to bring forth a new horizon because that is what is needed in this state in order for us to move forward,” Jeff told NM Political Report. Jeff represented House District 5, which includes a large portion of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, for two terms before she was kicked off the ballot during her run for a third term because she did not collect enough valid signatures. As a Representative, she sometimes voted against fellow Democrats on key issues, most notably when she skipped a vote to raise the minimum wage in 2014, even after then-Vice President Joe Biden called her personally and asked her to vote in favor of it.

Libertarians one step closer to major party status in NM

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s membership numbers are now high enough to qualify the group for major party status. Now that determination lies on how many votes former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson receives on election night in the state. If Johnson wins five percent of the vote in New Mexico, the state’s Libertarian Party could have a nominee on the next gubernatorial ballot. Libertarian Party of New Mexico Director Burly Cain told NM Political Report voters are finding it increasingly difficult to find a candidate they agree with, especially during this election cycle. “Many people in this election cycle are finding that they are looking for underlying principles that match their political ideals,” Cain said.