After the vote, brush-mustached David Chavez Jr., who left a $15,000 federal judgeship to go after the Democratic nomination for governor, sat in a Santa Fe friend's house wondering what to do next. Also wondering were at least 13 other Spanish-Americans who ran against "Anglo" candidates and lost. For the first time in years, New Mexico's Democratic ticket would be virtually Anglo. Heading the list: for governor, a run-of-the-platform politician named John E. Miles.

A political era was dying in New Mexico, the only state in the union which prints its ballots in two languages. Ten years ago, the state...

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