About Edwin Leard Mechem
Edwin Leard Mechem (July 2, 1912 – November 27, 2002) was a prominent Republican politician from New Mexico. He served as the 15th, 17th and 19th Governor of New Mexico and represented the state in the United States Senate. Mechem was the first person born in the 20th century to become the state's governor, as well as the first person born in New Mexico after statehood to succeed to the office. He later served as a Federal Judge.
Born in Alamogordo, he attended Alamogordo and Las Cruces, NM schools. He attended New Mexico A & M (now New Mexico State University), 1930–31 and 1935. He worked as a land surveyor for the U.S. Reclamation Service in Las Cruces from 1932 to 1935. He transferred his college credits to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and graduated in 1939 in law. He was admitted to the New Mexico Bar the same year and practiced in Las Cruces and later Albuquerque. He was an FBI agent from 1942 to 1945 and a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, 1947-48. He was elected Governor in 1950 and 1952, did not run in 1954, and was elected again in 1956. In 1954 he ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by sitting Senator Clinton Presba Anderson.
A member of the Committee on Government Security, 1956–57, and a member of the American Law Institute, he was again elected Governor in 1960. Mechem lost his bid for reelection on November 6, 1962. He appointed himself (as was his prerogative under the Seventeenth Amendment) to the U.S. Senate when long-time senator Dionisio "Dennis" Chavez died later that month. He served until November 1964 and resumed his law practice after an unsuccessful run for reelection. He was a member of the New Mexico Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch and a member of the New Mexico State Police Commission.
He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1970 he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as Federal Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, serving from 1970 to 1982, when he took senior status (1982–2002). He was related to another New Mexican Governor, Merritt C. Mechem who was his uncle. His father, Edwin Mechem, Sr. was a respected judge in Las Cruces.