This month, New Mexico voters elected Brittney Aileene Barreras as an independent to the state House of Representatives, district 12. She was the only name on the ballot, but she had a write-in opponent who was the newly-appointed Democratic incumbent, Art De La Cruz. The vote was 4,183 for Barreras, and 1,482 write-ins for De La Cruz.
Democrats had no one on the primary ballot because the earlier incumbent, Patricio Ruiloba, made a technical error on his primary petition. He couldn’t be a write-in in the Democratic primary because New Mexico does not permit write-ins in primaries. Ruiloba’s primary petitions omitted the district number. Ruiloba sued to regain his position on the primary ballot, but he lost. Since he couldn’t be re-elected anyway, except as a write-in in the November election, he resigned from the legislature and filed to run for Sheriff.
Barreras was able to qualify as an independent candidate because she had previously been registered as an independent. However, she says it was just an accident that she became a registered independent. When she filled out the voter registration form, somehow she missed seeing the blank for partisan affiliation, so she was coded as an independent by default. She says that she will switch her registration to Democratic to make it easier to run for re-election in 2022.
New Mexico did not permit independent candidates to run for any partisan office until 1977. The state was forced to pass a procedure for independent candidates after independent presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy sued the state and won. Thanks to Rick Lass for the news about Barreras.