December 2, 2015

Bush’s hint at a female VP choice renews Martinez speculation

It isn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last that Gov. Susana Martinez’s name is thrown around as a possibility to fill out the ticket on a Republican presidential campaign.

Gov. Susana Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez

The latest round of speculation came after Jeb Bush said “she” when referring to a potential vice president pick.

Bush isn’t exactly in the best position to be thinking about who his running mate will be; he is currently running fifth in the Republican presidential primary according to national numbers, 20 percentage points to 30 percentage points behind frontrunner Donald Trump. He trails by similar gaps in the key early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“Should I be elected president, I would have my vice president — I think she will be a great partner,” he said.

Bush then made a joke, asking if he said it out loud and made sure to say “he or she” for the rest of the statement.

Bush made the comment while campaigning in Iowa, which will hold its caucus in February of 2016.

Martinez has consistently denied any ambitions to run for national office, dating back to the 2012 campaign when some put forward her name as a dark horse candidate for the position. She said at the time, and continues to say, that she intends to concentrate on being governor of New Mexico and taking care of her sister, who was born with cerebral palsy. Mitt Romney, of course, picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate that year.

Last month, Marco Rubio dropped Martinez’s name when talking about a possible VP choice. A contributor to Politico Magazine thought that Martinez might take up a cabinet-level position in a Republican presidential administration.

Martinez’s national profile was given a lift last month when her fellow Republican governors elected her the head of the Republican Governor’s Association. The organization seeks to help Republicans in gubernatorial elections around the country.

Martinez’s protestations that she wants no part of a national election won’t stop speculation, however. Time cited Martinez (though misspelling her first name as “Susanna”) along with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as Republican women who are potential vice presidential choices.

The New York Daily News put Martinez on its list of possible Republican women who could round out a ticket along with Haley and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina is currently running for president. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner to win that party’s nomination.

Bush and Martinez do have some connections, however.

Bush’s campaign manager is Danny Diaz, a key figure in both Martinez’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And one of Martinez’s most prominent, and at times controversial, members of her cabinet is Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera. Skandera worked in Jeb Bush’s administration when he was governor of Florida.

As for Trump?

Martinez wasn’t a fan of his comments when he entered the race and made disparaging remarks about Mexicans. She called them “horrible things to say.”

Democrats have brought up a reported FBI investigation looking into her top political adviser Jay McCleskey and potentially retaliatory audits from the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

Martinez confirmed that she and staff spoke to FBI about an investigation.