N.M. State Senator Leaves Democrat Party, Cites Governor’s ‘Unconstitutional Acts’


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

New Mexico Democrat State Sen. Jacob Candelaria has left the Democrat Party, citing “unconstitutional acts” by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“I announce today that I’ve submitted to the Secretary of State a reregistration, changing my registration,” Candelaria said.

“It’s been a beautiful chapter — it’s been incredibly rewarding — but it’s also incredibly demanding,” Candelaria said, explaining his decision to retire from state government. “At this point, I’m happy to say that my husband and my future children require my full measure of attention. They need to come first, and I just can no longer give what it requires to do the job, honestly, and it’s time for someone else to step in and do that.”

“We need more people challenging the status quo in this state because we should be demanding more of our state government and its institutions,” he said. “We should demand more from people in elected office, and I think as a private citizen, all of those folks can look forward to me being even blunter about my views.”

In New Mexico’s election code, decline to state is the designation for voters who do not wish to align themselves with any political party.


Candelaria’s reregistration now makes him the sole independent member of the state Senate.

“His announcement comes on the heels of a New Mexico Supreme Court case where he and a Republican senator successfully petitioned the high court to compel Lujan Grisham to hand over spending control of federal relief money to the Legislature. Days after the court’s ruling, Candelaria announced that he was going back to the court to ask that justices censure the governor for allegedly spending a portion of the federal funds after the court’s decision. Lujan Grisham’s office maintained that the money was owed for services that were completed prior to the ruling,” the report stated.


“Candelaria’s announcement also came just as the Legislature convened to decide on how the federal relief money should be spent, in addition to approving new legislative, congressional and Public Education Commission maps. In his announcement, Candelaria called partisanship a “virus” and criticized both the Republican and Democratic parties, but set his sights largely on Democrats, namely the governor,” the report added.

Candelaria also said, “the Democratic Party has been asleep at the wheel for decades, on issues that we claim matter most to communities of color and the poor.”


Candelaria ended his speech with an accusation that the Democrats are “deliberately” gerrymandering state Senate districts in proposed maps.

“You would strip representation from people that I represent, many of whom are Hispanic, simply because it benefits you at the ballot box,” he said.

Earlier this month, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee announced he left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP.

During an interview on Fox News, Lee said he became a Republican because the Democrats have embraced socialism and an “anti-American” agenda.

“The party moved past me. In fact, Democrats are now leaving that party in droves because of the socialist agenda that has taken place in the Democratic Party,” Lee began.

“They’re totally anti-American. There was nowhere for people who thought and felt like I did about the virtues and values and morals of being a good American. It was time to leave. They have destroyed the Democratic Party now,” he added.

Lee argued the Democrats’ “elitist” and “socialist” agenda is not one he “can stand with anymore.”

Test your skills with this Quiz!