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Incumbent Democrat faces well-funded independent in House District 50

SANTA FE – In sprawling House District 50, a Democratic incumbent seeking his third term faces a well-funded independent candidate hoping to be the first non-major party candidate ever elected to the New Mexico Legislature.

Jarratt Applewhite

Lamy resident and former Santa Fe school board member Jarratt Applewhite is running against state Rep. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo, an attorney who has represented the district since 2015. Applewhite says he’s not running against McQueen per se.

In fact, the two agree on several major issues. At a candidate forum last month, they found common ground on prioritizing economic development, opening up primary elections to all voters regardless of party affiliation, promoting renewable energy and supporting women’s reproductive rights.

Applewhite, 67, said he’s running against the two-party system. The former Democrat who served on the Santa Fe school board in the 1990s said he became an independent about 10 years ago. “I’ve seen both parties abandon their middles and become more extreme,” he said. “And I’ve watched the primary process become the only elections that count.”

He wants an independent process for establishing political districts, open primaries and more open ballot access for candidates.

Applewhite says District 50 – spanning parts of Santa Fe, Torrance, Valencia and Bernallilo counties, from Eldorado east of Santa Fe to the outskirts of Belen – was gerrymandered to be “forever blue” – Democratic. “They took out half of Moriarty (and) half of Edgewood,” he said. “They took out all of Estancia and replaced those Republicans with Eldoradans who couldn’t tell you where the Estancia Basin is if their life depended on it.”

Matthew McQueen

McQueen acknowledged the district’s “challenging” shape, citing the long drive to visit constituents in Rio Communities, east of Belen, but says that doesn’t mean it’s gerrymandered. He also supports an independent redistricting process, but said District 50 was drawn by a court with both major parties at the table.

McQueen said he understands the need to represent his diverse district. “The people in Chilili and Bernalillo County are just as important to me as the people in this room,” McQueen said during the candidate forum at Eldorado. “I’ve worked my ass off representing the entire district.”

Through Oct. 3, McQueen had raised $60,524, compared with $57,990 for Applewhite. The challenger contributed about $5,500 and lent more than $27,000 to his campaign, and much of the rest comes through Unite America, which supports independent candidates nationwide.

Applewhite says he ran away to New Mexico when he was 17. His father worked for the CIA and as a liaison for then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Applewhite was born in Germany, and the family spent time in Beirut and Washington, D.C.

In New Mexico, he started working as a farrier and a vet technician. He transitioned into real estate, co-founded an IT company and headed a venture capital fund to provide financing for local businesses. He briefly worked for the New Mexico Finance Authority before retiring in 2009. Now he’s gone back to his horse life, tending to his or other people’s horses.

McQueen, 51, a Southern California native and attorney who specializes in areas such as conservation easements and land use, has lived in New Mexico for more than 20 years.

He recently represented residents opposing development of a Flying J truck stop on Interstate 25 just outside Santa Fe. The plan was denied by the county, and a court appeal has been withdrawn. “I think it was a great win for the community,” he said. “And that’s the kind of client I take on. If Pilot Flying J had approached me to represent their side, I would’ve said ‘no.’ ”


Jarratt Applewhite
POLITICAL PARTY: None
OCCUPATION: Retired
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Lamy

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Created hundreds of jobs, many in New Mexico; served on many boards and co-chaired city and state-wide task-forces; elected to Santa Fe Public Schools board; helped lead the New Mexico Finance Authority as its chief financial analyst.

EDUCATION: GED diploma

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: applewhite4nm.com

Matthew McQueen

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Attorney

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Galisteo

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Twenty-five-plus years of practicing law in various capacities; substantial nonprofit and community service; four years as a member of the New Mexico Legislature; father of two small kids.

EDUCATION: B.A., Williams College; J.D., University of Michigan Law School; M.S., University of Michigan School of Natural Resources; MBA, University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Business.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: mcqueenfornm.com

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