January 18, 2018

Martinez rebuffs speculation about post-term plans

Joey Peters

Gov. Susana Martinez speaks to reporters at the Albuquerque Marriott on March 27, 2017.

Guessing what Gov. Susana Martinez might do next after she leaves the state’s top elected office at the end of 2018 has become something of a parlor game in New Mexico politics.

Just a few years ago, observers occasionally mentioned the two-term Republican as a potential vice-presidential nominee in 2016.

Too late for that but might she run for U.S. Senate?

“Why would I want to be one of 100?” she said Thursday.

What about becoming a federal judge?

Boring, the governor replied.

At the end of a press conference in her cabinet room, Martinez invited reporters to toss out rumors about her next political move and proceeded to knock down one idea after another, seeming eager to address theories that have run rampant but leaving unanswered a big question that looms over New Mexico politics.

The Republican’s political prospects were particularly bright just a few years ago. She led the Republican Governors Association and seemed to be just the woman the party needed to keep from working itself into a corner as a party for white men. But that was before the ascent of Donald Trump and a slide in her own approval ratings.

Martinez openly sparred with the man who would become president, though she has since been more conciliatory.

And political observers have come to interpret just about anything the governor does as a maneuver towards some sort of future political — or at least public — office.

After regents at New Mexico State University declined to extend former Gov. Garrey Carruthers’ contract as chancellor, some politicians assumed Martinez wanted the job for herself. She has denied that.

A few months ago, a rumor swirled that the district attorney-turned-governor might want to be dean of the University of New Mexico Law School.

“I’ll never walk into another law school in my life,” Martinez told reporters on Thursday night.

What about U.S. Attorney General? Martinez said she had not thought about it.

The governor said she has “no inkling” what will come after her term ends.

“I may be in my last year but I’m not done until I’m done,” she said. “… My last day, I will not have a plan but to leave this office and figure it out from there.”

The governor suggested family considerations will bear on any such decisions, mentioning that she takes care of her sister, who has a disability, and has a brother in El Paso.

But Martinez added: “I enjoy working a lot and so I won’t sit back and do nothing, that’s for sure.”

Contact Andrew Oxford at 986-3093 or aoxford@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewboxford.