SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Ruidoso lawyer selected for a southern New Mexico judgeship by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez changed her party affiliation to GOP from Democrat on the day of her appointment, according to voter registration records.
The governor’s office said Friday that Angie Schneider was selected on merit and her party affiliation is “her personal choice.”
“Angie was the most well-qualified and prepared candidate for the position, and she has a strong reputation in the legal community,” Enrique Knell, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement. “Gov. Martinez is confident that Angie will serve the people of Lincoln County well.”
Schneider said in an email that the governor didn’t ask her to change her party affiliation.
She was one of two lawyers recommended to the governor for possible appointment to the 12th Judicial District judgeship by a bipartisan judicial nominating commission. There were seven applicants for the position.
Voter registration records released by the Lincoln County clerk’s office show that Schneider changed her party affiliation to Republican on Wednesday — the day her appointment was made by the governor and publicly announced. She had been registered as a Democrat since Jan. 14, and was as a Republican before that.
Schneider will replace District Court Judge William Brogan, who resigned in May to avoid possible disciplinary action by the state Supreme Court.
Under the state Constitution, an appointed judge must run in a partisan election in the next general election. The judicial district covers Republican-leaning Lincoln and Otero counties. The winner of the general election will then be subject to nonpartisan retention elections.
Schneider received her law degree from the University of New Mexico. She has operated her own law practice since last year and worked in other law firms for a decade. She was a state public defender in 2001-2003.