NM Libertarians nominate new secretary of state candidate

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By Tris DeRoma

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico replaced its secretary of state candidate Sandra Jeff with Ginger Grider, of Portales, a known Libertarian Party activist and an advocate for medical marijuana and voting-rights issues. 

According to LPNM’s chairman, Chris Luchini, Jeff left to pursue a position with the Navajo Nation. 

Luchini said Grider was chosen because of her familiarity with the straight-party ticket voting issue. 

Last week, the LPNM, the Republican Party of New Mexico, a state Democratic write-in candidate for the 46th District and others challenged New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in New Mexico Supreme Court to prevent her from creating ballots to allow for straight-ticket voting. 

“She is very active in ballot access issues as well as a lot of the other issues Libertarians are interested in,” Luchini said of Grider.

Luchini also said Grider is knowledgeable about New Mexico party status law. 

According to Luchini, Toulouse Oliver is threatening to take New Mexico Libertarian’s major party status away because the party no longer has a gubernatorial candidate on the ticket for this election.  

“This issue of straight-party ticket voting is obviously one of the issues she’s interested in as well as the threat from the secretary of state who ignores the law on party status,” Luchini said. “The secretary of state had already previously promised that she was going to remove our major party status without following state law. Hopefully, that doesn’t get triggered until after the election and by then, we’ll hopefully have a new secretary of state.” 

Luchini claims Toulouse Oliver’s interpretation of the state statutes governing state party status is incorrect, along with the legal opinion of former Democratic Attorney General Tom Udall.

Luchini and Libertarians have interpreted the law to say a party loses major party status if a party fails to run statewide or federal candidates for office. 

A party can also lose major status if it fails to capture less than 5 percent of the vote statewide in a race for president or governor and that one percent of New Mexican voters register as Libertarian. In 2016, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who is now on the ballot as the LPNM’s choice for U.S. senator garnered more than 9 percent of the vote in New Mexico when he ran for president in 2016. More than 1 percent of New Mexico voters also registered as Libertarians. 

This Saturday, Luchini, who is also Libertarian candidate for Los Alamos County sheriff, and Libertarian candidate for Los Alamos county council, Helen Milenski, will host a fundraiser and barbecue at the Sheriff’s Posse Lodge. Milenski is also the LPNM’s vice chair. Senate Candidate Gary Johnson is expected to make an appearance. 

Salmon and alcoholic beverages will be on hand. A $30 donation is suggested. The doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner is served at 6 p.m.