Joe Skeen (June 30, 1927-- December 7, 2003) was a conservative Republican congressman from southern New Mexico who served for eleven terms between 1980 and 2003.
Skeen was born in Roswell, in eastern New Mexico, a city now known for its reported UFO reportings. He graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station. He was elected to the New Mexico State Senate as a Republican in 1960. He ran for lieutenant governor in 1970 on an unsuccessful ticket headed by future Senator Pete V. Domenici. Incumbent Republican Governor David F. Cargo was ineligible to run for the first four year term for New Mexico governors.
Thereafter, Skeen lost two close races for governor -- in 1974 against Democrat Jerry Apodaca and in 1978 against Democrat Bruce King. In the former race, Apodaca led 164,172 (49.9 percent) to Skeen's 160,430 (48.8 percent). In 1978, King secured a second nonconsecutive term, 174,631 (50.5 percent) to Skeen's 170,848 (49.4 percent).
Democratic Congressman Harold Lowell Runnels died in 1980 and Governor Bruce King's nephew, David King, was selected to replace him. Skeen entered the race as a write-in candidate. He defeated King and Runnels' widow, Dorothy Runnels, who was also running a write-in campaign. Skeen received 61,564 (38 percent) to King's 55,085 (34 percent), and Mrs. Runnels' 45,343 (28 percent). Skeen was only the third person in U.S. history to be elected to Congress as a write-in candidate. As a congressman, Skeen had a largely conservative voting record but also brought numerous projects to his district. In contrast to most congressmen, Skeen faced several competitive races for reelection. He announced in 1997 that he had Parkinson's disease. Skeen announced his retirement from Congress in 2002 and left at the end of his 11th term in 2003. At the time of his death in 2003, he was highly regarded by New Mexicans in both parties for his service to his state.
Preceded by: Harold L. Runnels (D) United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of New Mexico Joseph R. "Joe" Skeen (R) 1980-2003
Succeeded by: Steve Pearce (R)