Martinez’s sights set on second term

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Martinez’s sights set on second term

With strong poll ratings and loads of money, first-term Gov. Susana Martinez seems poised to withstand a challenge from the well-known but not as well-funded politician hoping to unseat her.

Martinez faces Democrat Gary King for the state’s highest office, and with two months until Election Day, a political science expert says Martinez’s incumbent advantage goes a long way.

The Republican governor holds a 54 to 36 percent advantage in the latest Research and Polling, Inc., poll published in a copyrighted Albuquerque Journal article on Sept. 14.

The poll is an increase for Martinez. An August Journal poll showed Martinez ahead of King 50 vs. 41 percent.

The governor’s campaign also dominates King’s in terms of campaign funds. According to information released Sept. 10 by the Secretary of State’s office, Martinez has $3.8 million in the bank while King has only $157,730 balance for campaign funds.

“She’s the incumbent. She has more resources to bring to bear to this campaign than King,” UNM political science professor Lonna Atkeson said. “All of those factors weigh into to an incumbent advantage going into the general elections.”

New Mexico has made strides under her leadership, Martinez said Sept. 10. She points to her work so far balancing the state’s budget each year in office and cutting taxes 24 times in order to draw new industries to the state.

As an example, Martinez pointed to the arrival of a Union Pacific rail facility, which had its official grand opening in May. The governor said the $400 million hub brought 3,000 jobs including 600 permanent positions to Santa Teresa.

Her campaign website also touts among her accomplishments the sale of the state’s luxury jet and a 2013 jobs package, a bill passed the Legislature that cut business tax rates from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent.

“There’s a very crystal clear choice, and two very different ones: one that will go back to the days of (former Democratic Gov. Bill) Richardson and unwind all the successes we’ve made, or continue to go forward with all the reforms we’ve put in place,” she said.

Martinez said New Mexico’s education has improved under her administration as well, and the state now has the highest high school graduation growth rate in the country. The rate went up 15 percent between 2007 and 2012, rising from 59 percent to 74 percent, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Yet there’s still more to be done in that department as well, she said.

“With education, we have to make sure we’re not pushing kids from one grade to another when they cannot read or do math at the level of that grade because we’re setting them up for failure,” she said. “And that’s not compassionate.”

Bob Cornelius, a Republican who has aided statewide campaigns in the past, said he likes what the governor has brought to New Mexico in terms of jobs and the economy, such as tax incentives and the Union Pacific deal. Cornelius said he hasn’t heard much from King about his ideas.

“She’s got a message and a plan to make New Mexico better, and I think we should let her finish the job,” Cornelius said.

The first-term governor was the Doña Ana County district attorney before her gubernatorial win. She spent 25 years as a prosecutor before becoming district attorney in 1996, where she served three terms, according to a biography on her campaign website.

In the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary election, Martinez surprised some when she beat four candidates — Allen Weh, Janice Arnold-Jones, Pete Domenici Jr. and Doug Turner.

She then won the general election over Democrat Diane Denish, the lieutenant governor under Richardson. Martinez reached 53 percent of the vote, according to data on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office website.

Martinez went unchallenged in this year’s Republican primary.

In 2012, Martinez reached a national audience at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, the same convention where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney earned the party’s presidential nomination.

In her address, Martinez spoke of her father’s efforts to grow a security business, starting off guarding bingo nights at Catholic churches. She even carried a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum because her father “made sure I could take care of myself.”

“Yes, that gun weighed more than I did,” she said. “My parents grew that small business from one 18-year-old guarding a bingo to more than 125 employees in three states.”

Those lessons from her parents, Martinez told the crowd, helped shape her pursuits as a prosecutor.

“I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand up,” Martinez said in the address. “What we have now are politicians. They won’t offer real plans, and only stand up when they want to blame someone else.”

Some national pundits have suggested she could be among the potentials for the 2016 ticket as a Republican vice presidential candidate.

“With no Republican women at this point expressing interest in a 2016 presidential run, Martinez’s appeal as a vice-presidential prospect is hard to ignore,” writer Scott Conroy wrote. “That she also happens to be Hispanic and the governor of a blue state makes it unique.”[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”2484″][text_output]Gov. Susana Martinez and state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela join in a round of applause as a press conference Sept. 10 at the Rio Rancho City Hall. Martinez and Barela helped announce that S&P Data will have a call center in the city, which is expected to bring 400 jobs. Photo by J.R. Oppenheim / NM News Port[/text_output][text_output]

Governor at a glance

Job description: State’s chief executive

Term: Four years

Salary: $110,000

Incumbent: Gov. Susana Martinez[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]