On July 3, James T. Parker, an independent incumbent on the New Mexico Public Education Commission, filed a federal lawsuit against the state law that requires him to submit the signatures of 3% of the last gubernatorial vote (within the district in which he is running), whereas minor party nominees need a petition of 1% of the last gubernatorial vote. Parker v Duran, 1:14cv-617.
Parker is an incumbent because he was appointed by the Governor. The Public Education Commission is elected on a partisan basis. No independent candidate has ever appeared on the ballot for that office. The number of candidates for this office is so low, there has never been a general election for that office with more than two candidates on the ballot.
New Mexico law has always been hostile to independent candidates. The state did not have procedures for independent candidates until 1977. The state’s first law for independent candidates required the signatures of 5% of the last vote cast, due in March, and the petition could not start to circulate until January. The petition deadline was declared unconstitutional in 1980. The 5% was lowered to 3% in 1991, but New Mexico still has one of the most onerous petition burdens in the nation.
Parker needed 2,196 valid signatures. He submitted 1,379. If he had been the nominee of a minor party, he would have needed 732 valid signatures.