PRC: A Job Only for an Elite Few?

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,

Ben Lujan.

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.

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