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Local Republicans call on Anderson to quit Legislature

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The Republican Party of Chaves County has requested that state Rep. Phelps Anderson, DTS-Roswell, resign from the state Legislature following the Roswell lawmaker’s recent departure from the GOP.

Last week, Anderson abruptly changed his party affiliation from Republican to “Decline to State” after receiving complaints about his vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee in support of House Bill 7 (HB 7), which would repeal a dormant 1969 state law that criminalizes most abortions in New Mexico.

The Party emailed a letter to Anderson Friday, signed by county party chair Claire Chase and four other local Republican party officers, in which they thank him for his years of involvement with the party but ask him to vacate his House District 66 seat, where he represents parts of Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt counties in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

“Regardless of your justification, by your own vote on HB 7, you did not reflect the conservative values of your district, nor the will of your constituents. Additionally with your new voter registration as ‘Decline to State’, you have given the party no choice but to request that you resign your legislative seat, which should belong to a member of the Republican Party,” the letter states.

Chase on Friday told the Roswell Daily Record that Anderson’s exit from the party has been sad for many local party members.

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“It is difficult to think of the Republican Party without Phelps Anderson in it, but we have to focus on the upcoming cycle and ensuring we grow new candidates and get out our voters,” she said.

The call for Anderson to step down from the Republican Party of Chaves County came three days after the state party’s executive board unanimously endorsed a statement asking him to resign, a message echoed by the Lea and Roosevelt counties’ party leaders.

Anderson has refused to resign and on Friday said he has not changed his mind.

“I thank the chairmen of Chaves, Roosevelt and Lea counties but remain steadfast in my determination not to resign,” he said.

For decades Anderson has been an active member of the Chaves County party. He served in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981 and for one term as the County Party chair.

In 2002, Anderson made an unsuccessful run to be the party’s candidate in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. He was unopposed in 2018 when he first ran for the seat he now holds, as well as last year when he ran for reelection.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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