Think New Mexico’s call to only allow highly educated candidates to
run for Public Regulation Commission seats is drawing the ire of at
least one successful politician who won elected office despite not
having a college degree.
Former U.S. Representative Harry Teague has written a letter to Think
New Mexico Executive Director Fred Nathan, arguing Nathan’s effort at
the legislative session to create candidacy requirements for the PRC
is “misguided and undemocratic.”
“In particular, I believe your proposal to institute an educational
requirement to qualify for PRC candidacy jeopardizes the democratic
nature of our elections process while simultaneously overlooking the
origins of past problems,” Teague writes.
There have been smashing successes in American history who lacked
formal degrees, Teague notes, from the entrepreneurs Steve Jobs, Bill
Gates and John Rockefeller to politicians including Abraham Lincoln
and the current Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives,
This issue is personal for Teague, who never got a formal education himself.
“With two sick parents and bills to pay, I had to go work,” he writes.
“But, boy am I glad that I lived in a country where I was judged by my
abilities and not by my degrees.”
Teague built a business that employs 200 people, he writes. He served
as a county commissioner and was elected to the U.S. House of
“The characteristics that served me well in these positions were my
abilities to listen, learn and collaborate,” Teague writes. “These
lessons can be learned outside the classroom.”
Past Public Regulation Commissioner mistakes came from “a defect in
character rather than a defect in degrees,” Teague says.
The solution to the problem of a lousy commission is better educating
the public about the importance of the PRC, he writes, so they’ll make
better decisions come election time.
The New Mexico Senate adjourned Wednesday night (the last night of the
session) without voting on PRC candidacy legislation.