Thursday, September 30, 2010

Write-In Candidate Legal, AG Says

Attorney General Gary King's office has opined that ballots allowing voters to  write-in gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Gomez are legal.

Some county clerks and Republican lawmakers have questioned the constitutionality of Secretary of State Mary Herrera certifying Gomez's for the ballot without a running mate. According to the state constitution, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run as a team.

Gomez, a political novice, is a Farmington Republican who says he's a supporter of the Tea Party.

The issue came up at the Secretary of State debate yesterday. Republican SOS candidate Dianna Duran said certifying Gomez was a clear violation of the state constitution.

But in response to a request for an opinion from state Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City,  assistant Attorney General Tania Maestas wrote:

"Article V, Section l of the New Mexico Constitution states that "the governor and lieutenant governor shall be elected jointly by the casting by each voter of a single vote applicable to both offices." On its face, the current ballot is consistent with the constitutional requirements. The space for write-in candidates in the current ballot requires a single vote. It does not require voters to make two separate votes for governor and lieutenant governor, nor does it otherwise distinguish between the candidacies of the two offices. The ballot does not state the name of write-in candidates; it merely sets forth a blank line for purposes of writing in an individual’s name."
Write-In Candidate - Morales


  1. Assistant Attorney General Tania Maestas' opinion would seem to disregard a previous ruling of the N.M. Supreme Court regarding write-in candidates, in which the justices stated: "We believe it was the intention of the people of the State, in amending ss 1 and 2 of art. V, to require that the governor and lieutenant-governor be voted on as a unit. Lacking one of them, namely, the governor, there can be no candidate for lieutenant-governor by himself, and mandamus does not lie to compel the certification of his name." (State ex rel. Chavez v. Evans, Secretary of State, No. 8746, Supreme Court of NM, 79 N.M. 578) (1968).
    Also in 1998, the Supreme Court summarily rejected, without comment, an effort by Daniel Perlman of Taos to run as a single write-in candidate for governor.

  2. Presuming this interpretation of the N.M. Constitution stands, wouldn't it mean that all gubernatorial candidates will be able to run for office in the future without a Lt. Governor and simply appoint one if they're elected?