New Mexico Dem senator ditches party, citing ‘extreme partisanship,’ registers as independent

Democrats are facing extreme obstacles as they enter the 2022 midterm election season, with many retiring or resigning, and some, as in the latest example, leaving the party completely.

According to Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico state Sen. Jacob Candelaria announced last week that he’s officially leaving the Democratic Party, citing “extreme partisanship” within the party, as well as the actions of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), of whom he’s been a strong vocal critic.

“I announce today that I’ve submitted to the Secretary of State a reregistration, changing my registration,” Candelaria said, adding that he’s now registered as “decline to state,” an option for voters in New Mexico that essentially means he’s the state’s lone independent lawmaker.

The former New Mexico Democrat reportedly had a number of issues with Democrats in the state and their latest actions, but dialed in on recent redistricting maneuvers that apparently didn’t sit well with him.

State Democrats control the redistricting process ahead of next year’s elections and following the 2020 Census. Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell’s district was targeted in the Democrats’ latest gerrymandering attempt, which would add populous, liberal-leaning areas to an otherwise traditionally red, rural district.

Candelaria made it clear that he’s sick and tired of Democrats using the process clearly only to favor Democratic candidates in future elections, instead of considering the needs of the local residents.

“I don’t think that the decisions we make should be based on partisan ambitions, and it broke my heart to see already that the Senate maps deliberately dilute and gerrymander the west side of Albuquerque to preserve perceived partisan advantage for some members of the Democratic Party,” he explained.

The ticked-off former Democrat also cited issues with how Grisham, the state’s Democratic governor, appropriated some $600 million worth of COVID-19 relief funds without legislative approval.

“The governor’s attempts to assume unilateral control of our state by bucking the authority of her office and the state constitution are an egregious power grab,” he said, according to RSNB.