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SANTE FE, N.M. –– Unite New Mexico, a citizens movement to bridge the growing partisan divide by electing common-sense, independent candidates to office, today announced its endorsement of its first two independent candidates running for the New Mexico state house in 2018. The announcement, which was made at the State Capitol where leaders across New Mexico gathered and participated in a discussion about the need for independent leadership, adds fuel to the rapidly growing presence of credible unaffiliated candidates in state and federal races across the nation for the 2018 midterm elections.
Unite New Mexico’s initial slate of candidates includes Jarratt Applewhite (HD-50), a Lamy businessman, nonprofit executive and former Sante Fe Board of Education member, and Tweeti Blancett (HD-40), a fifth generation New Mexican, small business owner, former state representative and environmental activist from Eagle Nest in Colfax County.
“We’re proud to endorse Jarratt and Tweeti because of their lifelong commitment to New Mexico and their local communities,” said Unite New Mexico co-chair Bob Perls, a former state representative and former U.S. diplomat. “These leaders represent what it means to put people ahead of partisan and special interests and we’re excited to do all we can to support their candidacies.”
In New Mexico, 24 percent of voters are registered as an independent, if those who state “no party preference” or decline to state their preference are included. Zero of the state’s 112 legislators are independent, and an independent candidate has never been elected. Just two or three independents, however, could control the balance of power, deny both parties a majority and use leverage as a “fulcrum” to force compromise amongst the two parties if elected.
Unite New Mexico is a partner of Unite America, a national organization that aims to bridge the growing partisan divide by electing common-sense, independent candidates to office at a state and national level. The national movement includes other state partners in Colorado, Washington and Maine.
In February, Unite America made history when it unveiled the first national slate of unaffiliated candidates in a century, including U.S. Senate candidates Craig O’Dear of Missouri and Neal Simon of Maryland, and gubernatorial candidates Terry Hayes of Maine, Greg Orman of Kansas and Governor Bill Walker of Alaska.
“New Mexico is ripe for political disruption, and I am excited that Unite New Mexico is bringing much needed competition to a political system that clearly is not working,” said Nick Troiano, executive director of Unite America. “We’re honored to welcome Jarratt and Tweeti into a community of trailblazing, independent candidates that spans the entire country.”
Both candidates will see heads up races against just one major party opponent this fall, as partisan gerrymandering has caused many seats in New Mexico to be uncompetitive. Applewhite will run against incumbent representative Matthew McQueen of District 50 while Blancett will run against whomever emerges from a crowded primary in District 40.
Applewhite and Blancett have each signed the Unite movement’s “Declaration of Independents,” a statement of shared principles that includes putting people ahead of partisan interests, following the facts and seeking compromising, and committing to the shared responsibility of civic engagement. Both candidates are also advocates for structural reforms, including ending gerrymandering, opening the state’s primaries to independent voters and reducing barriers to entry for candidates running outside the two major system.
In New Mexico, there are still 34 seats uncontested by one of the two major parties this fall. Unite New Mexico is recruiting independent voters and community leaders to run this cycle. To support Applewhite, Blancett and others who step forward, Unite New Mexico is building a network of voters, volunteers and donors necessary to level the playing field for independent candidates.
Over the last month, United New Mexico conducted a listening tour with stops in Farmington, Roswell and Las Cruces. Along the way, representatives of the organization talked to prospective candidates, voters and potential financial backers. Future events are planned for Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
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Unite New Mexico is a citizens movement to bridge the growing partisan divide by electing common-sense, independent candidates to office. For more information, please visit: www.unitenm.us.