Independent Dunn rejects 2-party system

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Over the course of his life, Aubrey Dunn has changed political affiliations the way some switch out cars.

Dunn has been a registered Democrat, Republican and Libertarian, and is now running as an independent for a vacant Albuquerque-area congressional seat.

Aubrey Dunn

The former state land commissioner, whose father and grandfather were both state lawmakers, has expressed disenchantment with the two-party system and says he feels invigorated without a party affiliation.

“You can speak pretty freely as an independent,” Dunn told the Journal.

Although few independent candidates have ever been elected to the U.S. Congress, there are some exceptions, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was first elected to the U.S. House as an independent in 1990.

And Dunn, a rancher and retired banker, said the unique circumstances surrounding the special election to fill New Mexico’s open 1st Congressional District seat could increase the chances of a political upset in the Democratic-leaning district.

“I don’t think anybody has any idea what’s going to happen,” he said in an interview.

Dunn was a Republican when he was elected New Mexico’s state land commissioner in 2014 but switched his party affiliation to Libertarian before leaving office when his term expired in 2018.

That came after conflicts with GOP legislators over his attempts to curb the use of underground water for oil and natural gas drilling operations.

Previously, he said he had left the Democratic Party after former Gov. Bruce King narrowly won a bitter 1994 primary election but was then defeated in that year’s general election.

Dunn did not seek reelection as land commissioner in 2018. He considered running for an open U.S. Senate seat that year but withdrew from the race to make room for former Gov. Gary Johnson, a fellow Republican-turned-Libertarian.

During this year’s race, some pundits have suggested that Dunn could peel away votes from Republican nominee Mark Moores, a state senator from Albuquerque.

But Dunn rejects the “spoiler” label, suggesting he might have better odds than Moores to win the race.

“I think there’s some conservative Democrats who won’t vote for a Republican but might vote for an independent,” Dunn said.

Dunn, who owns a cattle ranch near Corona, said he was drawn to this year’s special election in part because its expedited timeline did not require a lengthy campaign cycle.

He has indicated support for some Democratic-backed policies, such as eliminating the defense of “qualified immunity” for law enforcement officers accused of criminal wrongdoing.

But Dunn is also anti-abortion and opposes a federal ban on semi-automatic firearms, according to his responses to a Journal questionnaire.

Despite being outraised by both Moores and Democrat Melanie Stansbury, Dunn said, his elevated name recognition as a former holder of statewide office could offset the financial disadvantage.

And he has reported giving his congressional campaign a $65,000 loan, which has been used in part to air a television ad featuring Dunn stepping in cow manure and bemoaning the “political BS” in Washington, D.C.

Whether that message resonates in the largely urban congressional district is unclear, but Dunn is clearly relishing a candidacy free of party loyalties.

“I think we have a really good shot as an independent in a strange time,” Dunn said.

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango


taboola desktop


Officer shot last month calls for everybody to 'do ...
ABQnews Seeker
Sgt. Sean Kenny says: 'Everybody's failing. ... Sgt. Sean Kenny says: 'Everybody's failing. APD is failing. Everybody, we're failing.'
Sandia Labs' Z machine is world's most powerful and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Machine studies planets, nukes, black holes ... Machine studies planets, nukes, black holes and fusion energy
Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal
ABQnews Seeker
Critics: Details lacking in plan ... Critics: Details lacking in plan to house homeless at former hospital site
ABQ unveils to-do list to 'turn the tide on ...
ABQnews Seeker
Initiative lists 40 actions to address ... Initiative lists 40 actions to address problem
Three in NM named as National Blue Ribbon schools
ABQnews Seeker
Recognized for academics, closing achievement gap ... Recognized for academics, closing achievement gap among groups
NM rolling average of new cases declining
ABQnews Seeker
Number at lowest level since early ... Number at lowest level since early August, but hospitalizations are up
NM struggles with teacher vacancies
ABQnews Seeker
'Staggering number' of 1,000 openings, up ... 'Staggering number' of 1,000 openings, up from 570 last year
West Side brewhouse movie theater sets reopening date
ABQnews Seeker
Flix Brewhouse on Albuquerque’s West Side ... Flix Brewhouse on Albuquerque’s West Side will reopen Sept. 30.
UNM and Pitino: So here's the deal
ABQnews Seeker
Six months after their college basketball ... Six months after their college basketball marriage was announced, and one week before the first official practices begin for the 2021-22 season, attorneys have ...