David Clements, a GOP candidate for US Senate, is stepping down from his role as chairman Doña Ana County Republican Party amid pressure from the state GOP.
Clements sent his resignation letter to New Mexico Republican Party Chairman John Billingsley over the weekend.
"I was disturbed to hear that rumored Republican US Senate candidates, Allen Weh and Robert Aragon, have contacted you to express that my continued service as DARP Chairman to date is unethical, and given me an unfair advantage," he wrote to Billingsley.
The resignation underscores competing factions within the state Republican Party.
Clements, a 33-year-old Las Cruces attorney, was elected to DARP's chair this spring as a part of an insurgency by Ron Paul supporters and "liberty" activists who organized and effectively took over the county party. He's now running for the US Senate seat held by Tom Udall under a campaign promoting "constitutional conservatism" and libertarian-minded ideals that buck mainstream Republican Party politics.
"It involves being more inclusive of people that the party has historically shied away from," Clements tells SFR. "In some respects that makes people uncomfortable because you have free thinkers."
So far, Clements is the only announced Republican candidate for Udall's seat.
But Weh, who has bigger name recognition and a knack for aggressive fundraising, is rumored to be collecting signatures for a run. SFR left a voicemail message on his cell Sunday night that has yet to be returned.
Aragon, a former Democratic state representative who now serves on the state Board of Finance, is also rumored to run for the seat as a Republican.
In his resignation letter, Clements argues that any claim of him having an unfair advantage is a "moot point" because he's still the only announced GOP candidate for Senate. He cites a party protocol that a candidate doesn't have to resign from an official party post until another Republican candidate enters the same race.
"I understand their hesitation," Clements says of Weh and Aragon. "[But] as far as unfair advantage, that's only a question when you have more than one candidate."
Clements also takes Billingsley and the state Republican Party to task for so far ignoring his candidacy.
"The State Party has failed to mention I am even running for office through its various emails," he writes in the resignation letter. "Whether this was intentional or not, I find it unacceptable."
Clements' resignation takes effect Monday, Nov. 18, and former DARP Chair Russell Allen will assume the post.
Read David Clements' resignation letter below:
Santa Fe Reporter