Candidate Resource CenterUnite New Mexico seeks to recruit, train and empower independent candidates running for office by connecting them with voter, volunteer and donor communities committed to putting people over party.
Overview of UNITE NM candidate resource center
If you are a registered Democrat or Republican, running for office in New Mexico is easy. You have a party structure, including a volunteer and donor community prepared to act, as well as election laws written by, and for, the two major parties.
If you are a “declined-to-state” voter, a registered independent or belong to a minor party, it is much harder to run. In New Mexico, the partisans gave independents the name “declined to state” somehow implying we are really a Democrat or a Republican but want to keep it a secret.
That is not true. What is true is that we don’t think labels serve New Mexico or our Nation. Labels divide us and make it easier for special interests to pick their team, fund their team and label the other team as the bad guys. Parties stay in power because they scare people into believing “the others” are different, or bad or evil. The fact is, most New Mexicans and Americans agree on 80 percent of the issues, but you would never believe that listening to the divided media that panders to the far left and the far right.
We join the Unite America movement not because we want centrist or moderate positions on everything, but because we want candidates who are independent and thoughtful about policy decisions. We want candidates and elected officials who will put people first, not any party affiliation. Candidates who will put New Mexico first and not blind allegiance to narrow special interest groups. Leaders who will put community first and commit to breaking down the partisan gridlock that is wrecking Santa Fe and Washington, DC.
Why run for office outside of the two major parties?
We believe in what Unite America calls “The Fulcrum Strategy.” That, by electing a handful of independent candidates to the NM House and Senate (as well as the U.S. House and Senate), we can uniquely position common-sense independents to be honest brokers between the two major parties.
One major party often introduce good legislation, but the other shoots it down because it makes for good politics. More often than not, both parties ignore good policy options because it won’t play to their “base,” the people that elect most of them in their safe districts that are solidly “D” or “R.” You can help create consensus and compromise so that we can start solving New Mexico’s wicked-complex problems.
How do you run without the parties?
First, you must be registered as a declined-to-state voter or an independent by the end of January, in the year proceeding the election. This requirement is complex and yet another example of how the parties make it very difficult to vote and run for office in our state.
Second, you identify what State House district you live in (or other office you want to run for). Only Congress has no residency requirement. You must live in the district for which you are going to run.
Third, review the Secretary of State’s web site to see if there are any major party candidates already running for the seat you are interested in. Over one-third of all incumbent State Representatives have no opposition in the general election. We are particularly interested in targeting those seats, regardless if the incumbent is a “D” or an “R”. Everyone should have competition in an election. It makes them more accountable and drives voter turnout.
Fourth, review the New Mexico Independent Candidate Guide to see how many signatures you'll need to qualify to be on the ballot. Another way the two major parties stack the deck against independent candidates is by requiring many more signatures than partisan candidates are mandated to obtain.
While we're not a traditional party we are here to help you navigate the process of deciding to run, and how to get in the race. And, generally, Unite New Mexico exists to level the playing field for independent candidates by providing the infrastructure of voters, volunteers and donors to bridge the partisan divide in our politics.
Why is your candidacy so important?
When was the last time an independent candidate got on the ballot in New Mexico? When was the last time they won? The answer is rarely and never. So why do it? Because voters need to have choices. They want choices. Many are frustrated with our broken two-party system and the time is now to show folks there are options.
Yet, most elections are decided in the primary elections in New Mexico where 25 percent of the voters are excluded due to our closed primary system. Most general elections are not competitive. In short, a few elections are hotly contested, but most rubber stamp a decision that voters made years ago. You can change that.
The more often voters see good, thoughtful, independent candidates the more it will become the norm. The more it is normal, the more often voters will feel they can support the independent and not feel that they are “throwing their vote away” or “voting for the lesser of two evils.” In fact, our parent organization, New Mexico Open Primaries, is working hard to put in place an election system that removes the spoiler effect so that people can vote their conscience and good non-partisan candidates can get elected more easily. Systems like open primaries, rank choice voting, and proportional representation are what we are striving for.
Can you win?
It will be hard, but it is possible. The better question is: what does winning mean? If it means getting involved with your community, articulating that you believe in open, honest, non-partisan government, that you want what is best for the state, not for the political parties, then you will win for yourself, your family and the State.
We plan to recruit and support 3-6 candidates for the State House in 2018 and a full slate up and down the ballot in 2020. We are all volunteers. We would not be spending our precious free time on a cause if we thought we would not see some success in candidates winning their race in the 2018 and 2020 election cycle.
Or, if you prefer to start with a simpler run-think about changing your registration to declined to state and then run for a local or county office.
Is this a third party?
No, we are not creating a third party. We are not creating a new platform that we will hit you over the head with. We are not lining up special interest money that will demand obedience in upcoming votes. Instead, in partnership with Unite America, we've articulated a set of principles and approach to governance that we hope independent candidates champion and advance.
We are here to help. We can help you figure out how to become a candidate and do some basic training so that you can become a successful candidate. We can network you into the national movement that is supporting independent candidates throughout the country and helping them raise money and be successful.
Get in touch today by emailing [email protected] or giving us a ring at (505) 278-7611.