Santa Fe, New Mexico , United States
|| April 29, 1941
May 25, 2016 03:03am
Hispanic - Liberal - Anti-Death Penalty - Catholic -
|Info||Toney Anaya, a prominent New Mexico politician and national Hispanic leader, was born in Moriarity, N.M. on April 29, 1941. He grew up in a small dirt-floored adobe house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. After attending public school in Moriarity and a brief stint at N.M. Highlands University in the late 1950's, Anaya transferred to Washington D.C., where he graduated from Georgetown University in 1963 with a B.A. in Economics/Political Science. He received his J.D. from Washington College of Law, American University, Washington D.C. in 1967. |
Anaya demonstrated an early interest in and attraction to national politics. He worked as a clerical assistant to U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez in 1959, held federal jobs while in school in Washington D.C., and was Legislative Counsel to U.S. Senator Joseph M. Montoya from 1966-69. Nevertheless, he maintained strong ties to his home state, where he returned in 1970 as a partner in a law firm. Aside from occasional brushes with private legal practice and business ventures, most of his career since 1970 has been in public service.
As Attorney General, 1975-1978, Anaya established his reputation for being fearless and tenacious. He concentrated his efforts on issues like consumer education, consumer protection, and legislative campaign reform. As governor, 1983-1986, his agenda was based on the premise that government should provide services that individuals cannot provide for themselves. Anaya pursued his program as governor energetically, regardless of the consequences. He took a strong controversial stand opposing the death penalty; declared New Mexico a sanctuary for political refugees as a response to the turmoil in Central America in the mid-1980's; and vehemently opposed discriminatory immigration legislation.
During his gubernatorial administration, he expanded his activities to include involvement in national Hispanic politics. This caused frequent absences from New Mexico, and what some voters interpreted as a racial motivation in his politics. A precipitous drop in his popularity at home resulted, and toward the end of his tenure in office he received the lowest approval rating for a New Mexico governor in recent history. Undaunted, he stated in a 1985 magazine interview that he hoped history would show his efforts led to long-term, systemic institutional change.
Since January 1987, Anaya has served on numerous boards, commissions, and with non-profit organizations primarily focusing on Hispanic issues, education, and politics. His most significant national activities have been with the Democratic National Committee and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).