Editor-in-Chief’s Note: This is the inaugural piece in an anthology highlighting the experiences of first time, third party candidate Joe Nichols. With Libertarian party registrations at record levels nationally, we expect to see more millennials like Joe challenge establishment incumbents in the near future.
Artesia – During the early part of last year I was becoming frustrated with what I had seen in the developing primaries from both of the major parties, and I was looking for something different. I’d heard of the Libertarian Party in the past, and I even considered myself small “l” libertarian on most issues, but I’d never taken the leap in joining a political party. I researched the Libertarian Party more and even found the Libertarian Party of New Mexico’s website. I read the party platform thoroughly and it was generally agreeable. There wasn’t much about the Libertarian Party that I didn’t like except it wasn’t active in Eddy County!
At that point, I decided I was going to change that. I emailed LPNM Chairman Marty Swinney asking for more information on organizing a county affiliate. I paid my dues to join LPNM and the national Libertarian Party. The next day I went to the county clerk’s office and changed my voter registration from ‘Decline to State’ to ‘Libertarian.’
For the first time in my life I belonged to a political party, and I wanted to find others who belonged to our little, principled party. I started running posts in the buy, sell, trade groups on Facebook looking for more Eddy County libertarians, and much to my delight I found some! We met up and organized a loose committee to start promoting liberty and decided we would attend the state convention in April. We also made plans to have a booth at the Eddy County fair to run an “Operation Politically Homeless” booth to see if we could recruit any new Libertarians during the dumpster fire of the 2016 election.
About this same time, I started looking into state and local elections and I noticed my State House District was uncontested, so I did a little more digging and found that District 54 hadn’t been contested in a General Election for at least 10 years. I talked with other members of our Libertarian group in Eddy County, and we decided someone needed to run. I contacted Albuquerque libertarian activist Mike Blessing to find out what we needed to do to run a candidate since he had ran before.
Going into the LPNM State Convention I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to run for office. I was nervous about presenting a libertarian platform in deep republican red Southeast New Mexico. I knew many people, especially young people, would respond well to the message of “live and let live” but there were other aspects of libertarianism that I wasn’t sure would go over so well but I knew that someone needed to present our message of maximum freedom and limited government to a constituency that deserved to have a choice in the voting booth. Again, I had just been moved to engage the political process for the first time and I wasn’t sure that I was the best person to do it. The time for nominations at the state convention soon came and from the side of the room I hear Mike announce, “I nominate Joe Nichols to run for State Representative in whatever district he lives in.” Thanks for pushing me Mike, then and there I knew it was going to happen, and since it was happening I was going to give it everything I could….. Look for Rage Against the Machines .02 next Friday exclusively here at the nmpolitico.com.