Call them the runnin’ Dunns.
Plenty of families talk about politics around the dinner table. But a mom, dad and one of their sons do not usually end up all running for office together in the same election.
That will be the case this year with the Dunn family, however.
The New Mexico Libertarian Party’s slate continued to take shape on Tuesday with Robin Dunn filing for lieutenant governor. She is in the ranching business in Mountainair with her husband, Aubrey Dunn Jr., the state land commissioner who recently switched from the Republican Party to make a bid for the U.S. Senate.
In addition to the husband-and-wife pair, one of their sons, lawyer A. Blair Dunn of Albuquerque, is already running for attorney general as a Libertarian. He told The New Mexican that his brother is not in politics and his sister is resolved to keep out. So it is not quite the whole family.
But A. Blair Dunn said his mother is the one who taught him most of his libertarian values. And she would be campaigning for her son and husband anyway, so running for office herself was more way to help the Libertarian Party as it heads into its first election as a major party in New Mexico.
Candidates use the phrase “career politician” a lot to knock each other. But that is one charge that will not stick with the Libertarian Party’s ticket. Perhaps it’s just as well for a party offering itself an alternative to Republicans and Democrats.
While Robin Dunn filed to run as a write-in candidate for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, Bob Walsh, an 81-year-old retired mathematician from Santa Fe, filed Tuesday to run as a write-in during the primary election for governor.
“We are trying to break up the duopoly, give people another choice,” Walsh said, referring to the Republicans and Democrats.
Walsh describes himself as having been a Libertarian since around the time the party began to take shape decades ago. He recounts seeing a short piece in a newspaper about it and thought “that’s for me.”
Walsh has since run unsuccessfully for the Legislature and touts an agenda that fits with the party’s reputation as socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
On the fiscal end, Walsh pledged to reduce the amount of money spent on government services.
On the social side, Walsh has been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. When asked about issues such as immigration and same-sex marriage in past candidate questionnaires, he tended to argue the government ought to get out of people’s business and focus more on stopping corruption.
Though he votes Libertarian, Walsh has worked with politicians on both sides of the aisle. He volunteered with Democrat Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004, for example, and has backed Republicans, too.
But he says: “A lot of people are disgusted with the Republicans and Democrats. We’re offering people a choice.”
The party won easier ballot access this year after Libertarian presidential candidate and former Gov. Gary Johnson got about 9 percent of the vote in New Mexico during the 2016 election.
As long as the party can get more than 5 percent of the vote in a race for governor or president, it can keep its status as a major party and, with that, easier access to the ballot. (Some argue that the party qualifies with 5 percent of the vote in any statewide race, but that argument may have to play out in court during future years.)
The party is hoping to parlay frustration with the major political parties this year.
Aubrey Dunn Jr.’s candidacy gives the party broader name recognition. Elected as a Republican, he registered in just the last few months to vote as a Libertarian after sparring with GOP leaders including Gov. Susana Martinez. And he has since gone on to take the sort of independent tack that could play well in a purple state like New Mexico.
Most of the Libertarian Party’s candidates filed last month along with most office seekers from the Republican and Democratic parties.
A. Blair Dunn said the party is not fielding candidates for state treasurer or auditor.
But the Libertarians also did not initially field any candidates for governor or lieutenant governor.
Walsh and Dunn instead filed Tuesday, the deadline for write-in candidates. No one else is seeking the party’s nomination for those offices. Running as a write-in, then, has its advantages for a party that is still relatively small.
If Walsh and Dunn sought spots on the primary election ballot, they would have had to collect signatures from voters who are registered as Libertarians. There are only about 7,800 around New Mexico, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Easier, then, is to file as a write-in candidate and then send a letter to registered Libertarians asking them to fill in names on the party’s primary election ballot.
As long as the duo gets 230 votes — the number of signatures that would have been required to make the ballot — they will win their party’s nomination and take spots on the general election ballot.
Tuesday was also the day for major party candidates who fell short of support at their conventions to file more nominating petition signatures for a place on the primary ballot.
State Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, who is running for governor, filed for a place on the primary ballot along with lieutenant governor candidate Billy Garrett and commissioner of public lands candidate George Muñoz. All are Democrats.