New Mexico land commissioner becomes the nation’s first Libertarian statewide elected official

Aubrey Dunn headshot dark suit, white shirt, bolo tie, black cowboy hat (color photo)

Libertarian Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn of New Mexico

On Jan. 27, Aubrey Dunn, New Mexico’s land commissioner, switched his voter registration from Republican to Libertarian, making him the first ever Libertarian statewide elected official, according to Ballot Access News.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Dunn’s announcement and that he is considering seeking another state-level office in conjunction with the end of his term as land commissioner this year. From the Jan. 27 article “Dunn switches to Libertarian Party” by Andrew Oxford:

Some Libertarians have launched a campaign to draft [Dunn] as their candidate for the U.S. Senate. Regardless of his next steps, Dunn’s departure from the GOP means Republicans now hold one less statewide elected office.

Dunn’s move, though unusual, is hardly a surprise. A rancher and banker from southern New Mexico, he has long been at odds with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

He has generally developed a reputation as the sort of libertarian-leaning Republican that can be a rare breed in the party.

“I was on the outside,” Dunn said of his decision to switch parties.

Dunn’s son, A. Blair Dunn, is running for [N.M.] attorney general as a Libertarian and has undertaken a campaign of sorts to get his father into the race for U.S. Senate.

Democrat Martin Heinrich is running for re-election to the Senate. The only Republican candidate is Albuquerque businessman Mick Rich.

It would be an unprecedented win for Libertarians. But the party has access to the ballot this year.

Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson ran for president as a Libertarian in 2016 and received about 9 percent of the vote in New Mexico.

That was a strong enough finish to win Libertarians a designation as a major party in the state, ostensibly making it easier for its candidates to get on the ballot.

Whether or not a Libertarian could win, Dunn could still shake up the race.

Since last fall, Dunn has been actively weighing his options for other state-level offices to pursue in New Mexico. In November, U.S. News and World Report said that “Albuquerque-based attorney Blair Dunn said … that his father … is giving ‘heavy consideration’ to … [running] for New Mexico governor as a Libertarian candidate or independent.”

At the time of Dunn’s switch to Libertarian Party (LP) registration, the LP of New Mexico appears confident enough that it’s U.S. senate that Dunn will be seeking, to have listed him as a candidate on their website. The Feb. 6 filing deadline will be here soon.

Read the brief report at Ballot Access News.

Read the full story in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Read about the U.S. News and World Report coverage in our Nov. 14, 2017 blog post.