Martinez-mentum: Popular New Mexico governor could be on VP shortlist

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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Will New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez be the next vice president?

“Don’t know her, but on paper I think she looks very impressive,” veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy, a one-time aide to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, told The Daily Caller.

A conservative former prosecutor, Martinez is the most popular of the new Republican governors elected last fall, with an approval rating at or above 50 percent in a traditionally liberal state.

“What makes Martinez’s numbers so noteworthy is that she’s doing it as a Republican in a state that voted for Barack Obama by 15 points in 2008 and appears ready to do so again next year,” wrote Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, on Wednesday. “In addition to universal support from Republicans, an unusually high 32 percent of Democrats give her good marks and independents approve of her by a 48/38 margin as well.”

“[Florida Sen.] Marco Rubio (40 percent approval in Florida) and [Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (45 percent approval in Virginia) get most of the VP buzz, but Martinez has much more impressive numbers in her home state,” the report continued.

In addition to her popularity, Martinez is also the first Hispanic woman of either party to be elected governor of a state. Come next November, the Latino vote will be heavily contested as the White House seeks to win over enough Hispanics to compensate for President Obama’s low approval ratings among white voters and the GOP looks to make inroads with America’s fastest growing minority group.

Martinez has said she has no interest in being the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012, and an aide to the governor told TheDC that her position wouldn’t change. But, as in the case with Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, anything short of a Sherman-esque refusal is unlikely to dampen speculation among her fans.

Adam Brickley, a conservative blogger widely credited with first floating the idea of nominating then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the vice presidential spot in 2008, told TheDC that putting Martinez on the ticket would be “a good idea.”

“She’s certainly one of the more viable options,” Brickley told TheDC. “A lot of Hispanic people have been bandied about as options, and she would certainly be on the short list considering she’s popular, effective and conservative. She’s got everything she needs, so she’s somebody I’d consider.”

While New Mexico only has five electoral votes, it’s an important swing state. President George W. Bush lost the state by a razor-thin margin in 2000 — the closest election in modern times — but won it in 2004.

Should Martinez join the Republican ticket next year, chances are she won’t be the only New Mexican running for executive office. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is expected to declare his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination next week, and is currently polling at 23 percent support in the state against Romney and Obama.

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