Edwin L. Mechem

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Edwin L. Mechem
Edwin Mechem.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
In office
October 8, 1970 – July 3, 1982
Appointed by Richard Nixon
Preceded by new seat
Succeeded by Bobby Ray Baldock
United States Senator
from New Mexico
In office
November 30, 1962 – November 3, 1964
Preceded by Dennis Chavez
Succeeded by Joseph Montoya
15th Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1951 – January 1, 1955
Lieutenant Tibo J. Chavez
Preceded by Thomas J. Mabry
Succeeded by John F. Simms
17th Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1957 – January 1, 1959
Lieutenant Joseph Montoya
Preceded by John F. Simms
Succeeded by John Burroughs
19th Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1961 – November 30, 1962
Lieutenant Tom Bolack
Preceded by John Burroughs
Succeeded by Tom Bolack
Personal details
Born (1912-07-02)July 2, 1912
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Died November 27, 2002(2002-11-27) (aged 90)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dorothy Ellen
Residence Albuquerque
Profession Attorney
Religion Methodism

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 arranged his own appointment (as was his prerogative under the Seventeenth Amendment) to the U.S. Senate when long-time senator Dionisio "Dennis" Chavez died later that month. In the Senate he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 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.

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).[1] As a judge, Mechem's ruling protected the rights of American Indians on Indian lands from government interference.[2]

His father, Edwin Mechem Sr., had been a respected state district judge in Las Cruces. He was related to another New Mexican governor, Merritt C. Mechem who was his uncle.


  1. Edwin L. Mechem at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. Simonich, Milan (24 December 2011). "Bill to name courthouse for Edwin Mechem". Alamogordo Daily News. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas J. Mabry
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
John F. Simms
Preceded by
John F. Simms
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
John Burroughs
Preceded by
John Burroughs
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Tom Bolack
United States Senate
Preceded by
Dennis Chavez
United States Senator (Class 1) from New Mexico
Succeeded by
Joseph Montoya
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Bobby Ray Baldock