By Spencer Kellogg | NEW MEXICO
On Monday night in downtown Albuquerque New Mexico, Libertarians were in celebratory mode as they presented a bold and diverse set of candidates set to challenge local and national races across the state. In Santa Fe earlier that day, state election officials announced that Gary Johnson’s performance in the 2016 Presidential Election had ensured the Libertarian Party of New Mexico receive major party status in the upcoming election cycle. The significance of this announcement lies in the vast reduction of required registrations needed to appear on the ballot and means that running as a Libertarian has never been easier in the State of New Mexico.
Bolstered by the relaxed registration rules and a newfound energy in the post-Gary Johnson era, the list of candidates running in New Mexico include the current State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who has left the Republican Party due to dissatisfaction with their policies that have hurt the state economically. If Mr. Dunn wins as a libertarian he will become, arguably, the highest office holding libertarian in the entire country. His son, A. Blair Dunn (A. Blair Dunn Runs For New Mexico Attorney General), was the de facto spokesman of the night and his words rang through the conference room to roars of applause. A. Blair Dunn is running for Attorney General and has claimed current AG Hector Balderas to be one of the most corrupt lawmakers in state history. Besides his own campaign, A. Blair Dunn has been instrumental in leading and organizing a group of diverse and impassioned candidates seeking to displace corruption and restore civil liberties throughout the Land of Enchantment.
Former Democratic State Representative Sandra Jeff, running for New Mexico Secretary of State, took questions from intrigued and skeptical libertarians. She showed a video that highlighted the political and judicial scandals of the New Mexican legislature while also suggesting she was railroaded by the Democratic Party for voting against their wishes (New Mexico Corrupt Politics). Jeff’s inclusion at the event and her campaign at large brings political weight and tactical know how to the party infrastructure. Jeff is known throughout the state as a straight shooter willing to vote for what is right and her entry into the party signals a pragmatic model of libertarianism in the vein of former Governor Gary Johnson.
Entrepreneur Lloyd Princeton made perhaps the biggest splash at the event with his charming personality and impassioned advocation for impoverished New Mexicans. Owner of a national recruiting service and recent transplant to New Mexico, Princeton is running for Congress out of the 1st District of New Mexico and he was interviewed by two major outlets regarding his candidacy. A former New Yorker, Princeton displayed all of the qualities we associate with the Big City, and his well-spoken defense of principled and pragmatic libertarianism should quickly assert him as a major player in the national party structure moving forward.
The night felt like a fresh chapter in many ways and the new leadership of the LPNM could be proud of the 50 person strong turnout at the rooftop bar. Newly elected Party Chair Chris Luchini and Vice Chair Helen Milenski were beaming as interested onlookers showed up to meet the candidates. Both Luchini and Milenski live and work in Los Alamos, the county that received the highest Johnson vote total in the entire country and have been integral in leading an upstart revolution of the state party infrastructure. Luchini, a ballistics expert, announced his candidacy for Sheriff of Los Alamos with Milenski, a tough no-nonsense chemist, setting her eyes on a City Council seat.
Other candidates present at the meeting included Grady Owens and Chris Manning. Owens, who works at an observatory nestled deep in the Sacramento Mountains, is running for Republican Steve Pearce’s empty congressional seat in District 2. Mr. Owens made fiery remarks about our impossible path to legal citizenship and the utter ridiculousness of spending billions of dollars of taxpayers money on a border wall with Mexico that will not work. Manning, running for District 3 in the northern part of the state, is a former National Guardsman who spent 6 years deployed in Afghanistan and has the disposition of a man about business. Manning is running on a platform of education reform, expansion of civil liberties and a reduction of government in the lives of its citizens.
The onslaught of new candidates and interest in the Libertarian Party of New Mexico represents a victory of sorts for the former candidacy of Gary Johnson. While some members of the libertarian lexicon bemoaned what they saw as a poor performance by the Johnson campaign in 2016, here on a crisp and warm night in Albuquerque New Mexico, the evidence of Johnson’s success was on display. Because of his vote-getting total in the state, the LPNM has expanded exponentially and with relaxed regulations on ballot access, the sky seems the limit for the libertarians of New Mexico. For more information about the LPNM and their candidates please visit their website: Libertarian Party of New Mexico.