ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s not easy being independent, at least not when you’re running for public office, says Tyson Parker, who is on the Public Education Commission.
Parker, of Corrales, filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in July challenging the New Mexico law that specifies the number of signatures an independent candidate must gather to get his or her name on the election ballot.
And now, he says, he won’t be able to run for re-election. An independent candidate, Parker was appointed to the PEC last year by Gov. Susana Martinez.
Under state law, independent candidates must get signatures equaling 3 percent of the total votes cast in the district during the last gubernatorial election. Republican and Democratic candidates are required to turn in fewer signatures, equaling 3 percent of the votes cast during their party’s last gubernatorial primary election.
For example, Parker needed 2,196 signatures to get on the ballot for the District 4 seat on the PEC – but got only 1,379. District 4 covers parts of Bernalillo, Los Alamos and Sandoval counties.
But Democratic or Republican candidates would have qualified with fewer than 500 signatures, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
“I viewed this as discriminatory against me for lack of being identified with a political party, so I filed a lawsuit in Federal Court,” Parker said in an email.
Parker’s case was unsuccessful because the judge found similar arguments failed in previous court cases.
“Both the Tenth Circuit and the Supreme Court, however, have rejected virtually identical constitutional challenges to similar, or more burdensome, signature requirements,” U.S. District Court Judge Martha Vásquez wrote in denying his request for a permanent injunction.
Parker could start a write-in campaign, but he said that’s not practical for his situation.
“I am a self-employed individual with a family, so the time and resources required to put together and run a successful write-in campaign is beyond my means at this time,” Parker said.
This year, seven of the 10 PEC seats are up for election. Incumbents have no opposition in six of the races. Newcomer Karyl Ann Armbruster, a Democrat, is running unopposed for Parker’s seat.