SANTA FE – Andy Nuñez is going for the trifecta.
After serving as a Democrat for 10 years in the New Mexico House of Representatives he switched in 2011 to Independent. Now, after losing his re-election bid last November, Nuñez has changed his party affiliation again, this time to Republican.
“I’ve always been in the middle,” Nuñez said Tuesday morning after he made the change official by dropping by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. “I’ve always been kind of conservative anyway.”
In 2014, Nuñez said he intends to win back the seat he lost last November to Democrat Phillip Archuleta of Las Cruces.
“The D’s in my estimation have gone so far to the left that I can’t become a D,” Nuñez said. “We need to get some things done.”
Archuleta said the party switch amounts to nothing but political opportunism.
“I don’t have much trust in him anyway,” Nuñez said. “I gotta protect the farmers and ranchers.”
“He says I’m not trustworthy,” Archuleta told New Mexico Watchdog. “I don’t think people will trust his changing parties every time he loses.”
It’s obvious the Archuleta-Nuñez race is already heating up, even though the election is still 15 months away.
Last November, Archuleta won the District 36 election that encompasses parts of La Cruces and extends to the village of Hatch in a three-way race in which Archuleta won 42 percent of the vote, Republican Mike Tellez received 36 percent and Nuñez only got 20 percent.
Despite consistently voting with Republicans and carrying a controversial bill aimed at repealing the state law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented workers, Nuñez saw a political action committee of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez send out mailers against him, Nuñez said.
“I’m surprised and I’m pissed,” Nuñez told New Mexico Watchdog at the time.
“I had a long talk with him beforehand,” Martinez said on the eve of the election, “and I said, ‘Hey, your wife became a Republican, why don’t you?’”
Nuñez said he had spoken to Martinez before making his party switch Tuesday. “She’s not going to work against me (in the ’14 election), she told me,” Nuñez said.
Does that mean the governor will support him?
“All I can tell you is she won’t work against me,” Nuñez said.
According to most recent registration numbers, District 36 is comprised of 46 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans, 22 percent “Decline To State” and 4 percent “Other.”
“We’ve been working hard for our district,” Archuleta said.
“It’s a farming community,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez serves as mayor of Hatch and said, if elected, he won’t step down and have the town’s mayor pro tem fill in for him while he’s three and a half hours away in Santa Fe during the legislative session.
He said, however, he’ll consider ending his lobbying efforts for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, the Carlsbad Irrigation District and the farmers of Hatch Valley. “Some people might think that’s a conflict of interest,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez accused Archuleta of being “anti-ag(riculture)” and said Archuleta once worked for Cesar Chavez’s farm labor movement, which Archuleta denied.
“Everyone says, ‘he’s a liberal,’ if you vote a certain way,” Archuleta said. “I am a pro-labor person, but I support employers and employees … There’s not much we can do (about the 2014 election). If the people of the district think I’ve done a good job, they’ll vote for me. If they don’t, they can vote for Andy.”
Here’s a Watchdog video of Nuñez speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, including addressing whether age will be a factor in the race for the 77-year-old Nuñez. By the way, Archuleta is 64.
Cross-posted from Watchdog.org
* * *
Are you familiar with Democrat Representative Phillip Archuleta? If you are not you may find this video, which I originally posted last November, interesting. Archuleta is filmed by a college student on election day. An angry Archuleta threatens the young man and flips him off:
[Graphic video-- some may consider offensive]