News Column

Gov. Martinez's Personal Life Makes National Headlines

July 30, 2013
susana martinez

People who read People will learn a little bit about New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's family life this week.

The glossy magazine's Aug. 5 issue includes a two-page spread about Martinez caring for her older sister, Lettie Martinez, who is developmentally disabled.

People is not the only national publication to publish a story about the governor this week. On Monday, Martinez was featured, along with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, in Politico. The story is about how the two Hispanic, Western governors aren't facing the same kind of Hispanic backlash over immigration issues as other Republicans.

The People story, written by Champ Clark, features four color photos: a head shot of the Martinez sisters; one of the sisters getting a pedicure; one of Gov. Martinez greeting President Barack Obama on a trip to New Mexico last year; and one of the governor and her siblings in 1966 on the day of Susana Martinez's First Communion.

Lettie Martinez was born with cerebral palsy. She lives with a caretaker in Susana Martinez's home in Las Cruces.

Although most of the story is about Gov. Martinez's relationship with her sister, it also quotes Republican strategist Ford O'Connell saying, "She can be seen as the future of the GOP. She has the potential to be a candidate who can bring the whole party together."

But, as she's told New Mexico reporters, Martinez, who faces re-election next year, told People that her sister comes before any national ambition.

"Lettie will always be my priority," she said.

The Politico article begins by talking about Republican efforts to make inroads with Hispanics and how the governors of New Mexico and Nevada "thrive" while the GOP is struggling.

"Of all the obstacles standing between the Republican Party and the White House, preventing heavily Latino, trending-blue Western states from settling comfortably into the Democratic column is high on the list. [Martinez and Sandoval] are two Republican politicians winning in precisely those kinds of places -- and GOP officials who've been watching them say the party would be wise to pay attention," the article says.

The story, by Emily Schultheis, also says Martinez has "tacked to the center" on some major issues. "After she took office, she opted not to cut education funding in the state and was, after Sandoval, one of the first GOP governors to accept the Medicaid expansion [under Obama's Affordable Care Act]. Both decisions played well with voters. But she's also built up her GOP credentials by working to turn the state's deficit into a surplus and leading the successful push to lower state corporate income tax rates."

State legislators might have something to say about the deficit, as they had a pretty big role in crafting the budget in 2011, before Martinez took office.

And a couple of state Democrats -- Attorney General Gary King and state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque -- might be fuming over Politico's observation that Martinez has no "serious 2014 reelection challenger in sight." Both King and Lopez have announced they are running for governor.

Source: (c)2013 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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