You all know I’m excited that Gary Johnson entered the New Mexico senate race as a Libertarian candidate. I told Professor Jacobson I need to cover this race because I know Johnson has a decent chance to defeat the Democrat incumbent. A poll released only two days after Johnson announced proved me correct because he shot up to second place.

The establishment in both parties have felt the heat. Republican candidate Mick Rich refused to bow out of the race to unite the GOP and Libertarians behind Johnson. Now New Mexico all of a sudden decides to restore straight party voting.

Still a Three Man Race

In that poll I mentioned, Rich placed third with only 11%. Back in July, matt Welch wrote at Reason that in mid-May, “Rich trailed Heinrich in available campaign funds, $166,000 to $3.993 million.” Santa Fe New Mexican columnist Milan Simonich described Rich as a “tomato can.”

Rich has shown his ignorance about libertarians when he said that Johnson is “more in sync with [Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders] than he is with Republicans.”

Unfortunately, Rich and the Republicans remain stubborn and he didn’t pull out of the race by August 28 to unite behind Johnson to take down incumbent Martin Heinrich.

Straight Party Voting

To make matters worse for Johnson, Democrat New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced that the state has restored the straight party voting option for November. This means a person can vote for every candidate on the ballot of a single party by clicking one box or filling in one blank. Reason reported:

As of July 31, 45.9 percent of eligible New Mexico voters were registered Democrats, compared to 30.5 percent Republican, 0.7 Libertarian, and a combined 1.0 percent other (21.9 percent were unaffiliated). Johnson, in the only three-way poll conducted since he officially announced, was at 21 percent, compared to incumbent Democratic Martin Heinrich’s 39 percent and Republican nominee Mick Rich’s 11.

Oliver, who made the changes reportedly without so much as a single public hearing on the issue, cast her narrow-casting decision as matter of expanding choice.

“The more options people have, the easier it is for more eligible voters to participate—and participation is the key to our democratic process,” she said in her statement. “As Secretary of State, I am committed to making it easier—not harder—for New Mexicans to vote….From moms juggling work and kids to elderly veterans who find it hard to stand for long, straight-party voting provides an option for voters that allows their voices to be heard while cutting in half the time it takes them to cast their ballot.”

This is a bunch of crap. Voting should not be easy. A responsible citizen should take his or her time when voting for any candidate. It’s just another excuse for the dominant party to stay in power. Johnson agreed:

Johnson’s reaction was withering.

“Suggesting that New Mexico voters don’t want to take the time to actually indicate their preferences for each office is ridiculous,” he wrote in an email. “Pushing voters toward straight ticket voting is a worn-out staple of major party incumbents, and flies in the face of the reality that the great majority of voters are independent-minded and don’t need or appreciate a ballot that provides a short-cut to partisanship.”

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico and the Republican Party of New Mexico joined forces (too bad they couldn’t do this over Rich) along with a PAC and a Democrat state candidate and filed a lawsuit to stop the decision about straight party voting. From Los Alamos Monitor:

Libertarian Party of New Mexico Chair Chris Luchini, who is running for Los Alamos County sheriff, said the party was “deeply concerned” about Toulouse Oliver’s decision.

“It is so transparently partisan,” he said.

The state Republican and Libertarian parties were joined by two others in the court filing. Elect Liberty, PAC, is a political action committee working on behalf of Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson.

Democrat Heather Nordquist, a write-in candidate for New Mexico House District 46, is running against Andrea Romero. Nordquist is a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who lives in El Rancho.

Toulouse Oliver made the decision without a public hearing, which is part of the mandatory state process and decided to make the change 66 days before the election, Luchini said.

“We are deeply concerned by the abuse of power via executive fiat that the Secretary of State with the support of the Attorney General is engaged in a blatant act of self-dealing to give their political party an advantage in this election,” Luchini said. “This effort is clearly an attempted to interfere with our major party status and to disadvantage our candidates’ prospects, up and down the ballot, of winning any election to public office in New Mexico.”

That’s exactly what it is. It’s an opportunity to implement an easy way for the Democrats to remain in power and defeat any chance that Johnson has to win the senate seat.

[Featured image via YouTube]