May 5, 2016

Martinez, GOP face Trump support questions

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011. Flickr /cc

Gov. Susana Martinez is, along with all other Republican officials and candidates, facing questions over whether she will support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The divisive New York City businessman took a victory lap of sorts on Wednesday, the day after he handily won the Indiana primaries. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out Tuesday night and Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed suit Wednesday.

The Republican National Committee and Republican Party of New Mexico both signaled they would support Trump.

As with other Republicans, she now has to decide whether to fall in line with the party structure and support Trump’s presidential bid or to withhold her support. She has an additional pressure as the head of the Republican Governors Association, the organization that supports Republican candidates for governor.

A statement from a spokesman for the governor said she would wait to make any decision.

“As the governor has said many times, she will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Period,” said Michael Lonergan, the governor’s spokesman. “That said, she wants to hear how Mr. Trump plans to address issues that directly affect New Mexicans — like how he plans to protect our labs and military bases and end the dysfunction in Washington that has hurt New Mexico more than any other state in the country.

Martinez for VP? Don’t bet on it

But the stakes for Martinez go beyond just an endorsement of Trump.

Many pundits and party insiders are putting Martinez on the shortlist to be Trump’s running mate. This seems highly unlikely, as Martinez has repeatedly shot down any speculation that she would seek a position on a national ticket during both this election cycle and the 2012 election cycle.

Martinez also voiced concerns about Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants and others, first after he entered the race then again during a private donor event.

One Trump advisor said Trump was looking for someone with foreign policy and Washington D.C. experience, neither of which would describe the former district attorney-turned governor.

This came after an unnamed Trump aide, according to CNN, said that Martinez was on Trump’s short list.

Dems push GOP, Martinez on Trump

Democrats both in the state and nationally see the candidacy of the divisive Trump as a way to pressure Martinez and other Republicans.

The Democratic Governors Association named Martinez as part of the “Silent 9” for failing to say where she stands on Trump.

“Today, Governor Martinez was named as an [sic] member of “The Silent 9” for her refusal to speak up about where she stands on Donald Trump for president,” DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold said. “As other GOP governors have come clean on their support for Trump, Martinez has remained silent. Now, it’s time for RGA Chair Susana Martinez and the rest of ‘The Silent Nine’ to declare whether they support the presumptive Republican nominee.”

And on Thursday, four Albuquerque Democratic legislators joined Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Deb Haaland to denounce the New Mexico Republican Party’s embrace of Trump.

The Democratic legislators and Haaland criticized Trump and slammed the state Republicans for accepting Trump, citing his comments against Hispanics and others during the Republican primary.

Meanwhile, the Republicans sent a press release blasting the Democrats for not yet being united on a presidential nominee, saying it was a weakness of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“Compared to the excitement of the Republicans this year, the Democrats have been downright depressed about their candidate, and we look forward to putting that excitement to good use this fall and electing a Republican President,” spokesman Tucker Keene said.

Nowhere in the Republican press release, however, were the words “Donald Trump” used.