Last modified on March 31, 2022, at 00:24

Edwin Mechem

Edwin L. Mechem
Edwin Mechem.jpg
Former Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
From: October 14, 1970 – July 3, 1982
Predecessor (none, seat established)
Successor Bobby Baldock
Former U.S. Senator from New Mexico
From: November 30, 1962 – November 3, 1964
Predecessor Dennis Chavez
Successor Joseph Montoya
Former Governor of New Mexico
From: January 1, 1961 – November 30, 1962
Lieutenant Tom Bolack
Predecessor John Burroughs
Successor Tom Bolack
Former Governor of New Mexico
From: January 1, 1957 – January 1, 1959
Lieutenant Joseph Montoya
Predecessor John F. Simms
Successor John Burroughs
Former Governor of New Mexico
From: January 1, 1951 – January 1, 1955
Lieutenant Tibo J. Chávez
Predecessor Thomas J. Mabry
Successor John F. Simms
Former State Representative from
New Mexico

From: 1947–1948
Predecessor ???
Successor ???
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Josephine Mechem

Edwin Leard “Big Ed”[1][2] Mechem (July 2, 1912 – November 27, 2002) was an FBI agent and [[Republican PartyRepublican}]] from New Mexico who served as the state's governor and U.S. Senator, previously being a state representative. He was later appointed U.S. President Richard M. Nixon to a district court in 1970.

Early life and education

Mechem was born in southern New Mexico and grew up attending schools in Las Cruces and Alamogordo. He later went to New Mexico A&M University, where he belonged to the Alpha Delta Theta Fraternity.

Working as a land surveyor in his early career, he later attended the University of Arkansas and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1939. Mechem also worked as for the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the early 1940s before being elected to public office.

Political career

Mechem was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 1946 and served from 1947 to 1948.[1]

Governor of New Mexico

Mechem successfully ran for governor in 1950,[3] and was re-elected in 1952.[4] After a failed Senate bid in 1954,[5] he was elected governor again in 1956,[6] having defeated Democrat incumbent John Field Simms, Jr.[7] Very narrowly defeated for re-election in 1958,[8] he ran yet again and won in 1960.[9]

As governor, Mechem worked to investigate the murder of Ovida "Cricket" Coogler, a waitress from Las Cruces.[2] However, the case remains unsolved.

U.S. Senate

After the death of incumbent Democrat senator Dennis Chavez, Gov. Mechem appointed himself to fill the vacant seat.

Mechem was one of six Senate Republicans (the others being Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Bourke Hickenlooper of Iowa, Milward Simpson of Wyoming, Norris Cotton of New Hampshire, and John Tower of Texas) who voted against the final passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[10] He asserted that his objections were towards the sections of the legislation regarding fair employment and public accommodations.[11] Mechem ran for a full Senate term that year but lost the general election by nine percentage points to the liberal Democrat Joseph M. Montoya.[12]

He missed 10 percent of all roll call votes during his short Senate tenure.[13]

District court

Mechem was nominated by President Richard Nixon to a district court in early September 1970, where he served until his death in 2002. He became the senior judge of the court in 1982.

Mechem made several notable rulings on high-profile cases. He found out that there was sex discrimination in the Albuquerque Police Department as well as disabled children in the city being denied an appropriate public education.[1][2] On issues related to Native Americans, he ruled that their lands could not be regulated by statewide fish and game laws, and further granted them the right to sell wares in Santa Fe at the Palace of the Governors portal.


Even some Democrats in New Mexico regarded Mechem as a "great citizen".[2] Former Republican U.S. representative Steve Pearce introduced legislation twice to name a federal courthouse in Las Cruces after him, stating:[2][14]

Edwin Mechem is an iconic and prolific leader whose legacy should live on in the state. His service to our state as a United States senator, governor and federal judge deserves recognition.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Associated Press (November 30, 2002). Edwin Mechem, 90, a Governor of New Mexico. Associated Press via The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Simonich, Milan (December 24, 2011). Bill to name courthouse for Edwin Mechem. Alamogordo Daily News via Internet Archive. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  3. NM Governor. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  4. NM Governor. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  5. NM US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  6. NM Governor. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  7. JOHN F. SIMMS, 58, EX‐GOVERNOR, DIES. The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  8. NM Governor. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  9. NM Governor. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  10. HR. 7152. PASSAGE.. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  11. Civil Rights Bill Passed, 73-27; Johnson Urges All To Comply; Dirksen Berates Goldwater. The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  12. NM US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  13. Sen. Edwin Mechem. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  14. ABQJournal News Staff (March 18, 2013). Pearce wants court named for Mechem. Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved May 17, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Federal Judiciary Center
  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress