SANTA FE – Four independent candidates for the state House made the ballot this year – with three campaigning for Republican-leaning open seats that were otherwise uncontested.
Former Clovis Mayor David Lansford, for example, qualified as an independent to challenge retired prosecutor and Republican Andrea Reeb in eastern New Mexico.
The winner will succeed Republican Rep. Randal Crowder, who isn’t seeking reelection after eight years in the Legislature.
Lansford, a pharmacist, spent 20 years – off and on – as Clovis mayor and describes himself as more conservative than some Republicans.
“I like to think that I think independently, that I’m objective and logical and willing to strive to see the big picture,” he said in an interview.
“I’ve been a public servant my entire career,” she said.
It’s rare for a candidate who declines to state a party affiliation to win a legislative seat, but not unprecedented.
Brittney Barreras won a South Valley-based House seat in 2020 against a Democratic write-in candidate, though she later switched her affiliation to the Democratic Party. She stepped down this year.
Two members of the Legislature are now independent, though they won election while affiliated with a party.
In addition to Lansford, three other independent candidates qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot:
• Independent Matt Dodson is competing with Republican Mark Duncan, a former San Juan County treasurer, for a Farmington-based seat in the House.
The winner would succeed Republican Rep. James Strickler.
• Independent Elaine Allen of Lincoln is running against Republican and retired Ruidoso fire chief Harlan Vincent. The winner will succeed Republican Zach Cook.
• Independent Laura E. Gutierrez entered the District 15 race that features Democratic Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil of Albuquerque and Republican Kim Kaehr-MacMillan.
UNAFFILIATED: Independent, or “decline to state,” voters make up 22% of New Mexico’s registration rolls.
The Legislature, however, is largely divided between Republicans and Democrats. Each party in each chamber forms its own caucus, allowing members to strategize behind closed doors and stick together to pursue shared priorities.
The two unaffiliated lawmakers are Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque, a former Democrat, and Rep. Phelps Anderson of Roswell, a former Republican.
Dan McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org