Despite calls to talk about Donald Trump by the media and, mostly, the state Democratic Party, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has largely maintained her silence since her preferred candidate, Marco Rubio, dropped out. This changed at a donor event this weekend, according to the Washington Post. The Post reported that the chairwoman of the Republican Governor’s Association “did not mince words” and slammed Trump at the event held at the “mansion of billionaire David Koch” in Palm Beach, Florida. She told the crowd of about 60 wealthy GOP backers that, as a Latina, she was offended by Trump’s language about immigrants. Noting her years working as a prosecutor on the Mexican border and now as a border-state governor, Martinez said Trump’s plan to build a wall and force Mexico to pay for it was unrealistic and irresponsible, according to multiple people in attendance.
Donald Trump and Susana Martinez could meet in New York next month. The New Mexico governor will be the guest of honor at the 2016 New York State Republican Gala. The New York State Republican Party announced Wednesday that the businessman and reality TV show star who is currently leading the race to be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate will attend. The New Mexico governor has stayed mum on whether or not she would support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee. Martinez endorsed Marco Rubio early in March; two weeks later, after losing his home state to Trump, the U.S. Senator from Florida dropped out of the race.
—All of New Mexico’s congressional Democrats are on Team Hillary. Ben Ray Luján, the last holdout, announced his support for Hillary Clinton. Luján said in a statement that the former Secretary of State “embodies New Mexico values.”
“She puts people first and will roll up her sleeves to change their lives for the better,” he added. “Her record of advocating on behalf of women, children and families, investing in science and supporting our national labs, and fighting to protect our land, water and air will make a real difference in New Mexico and across the country.”
Luján is also the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, giving him an increased national profile among Democrats. —Speaking of endorsements, you may have heard that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump (yes, each word is a link to a different news story on the event).
The end of 2015 brought explosive news that the FBI were conducting investigations on New Mexico state government and Gov. Susana Martinez’ top political operative, Jay McCleskey. The first report, by the Santa Fe New Mexican, mentioned that federal authorities were looking into campaign spending by Martinez during her first gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and also spending from her first inaugural committee in 2011. We are counting down the top ten stories through the end of the year with expanded recaps or personal recollections from the three members of the team. Tune in each morning to see what the next story is. Previous: Stories 10-6.
As was widely expected, Republican governors selected Susana Martinez to lead the Republican Governors Association. The governors picked Martinez to be the next chair of the organization on Thursday at a meeting in Las Vegas, which pushes Martinez even further into the national spotlight. The selection will surely prompt more discussion of Martinez as a possible Vice Presidential candidate or cabinet member of a Republican presidential administration. Martinez has denied any interest in national office each time she is asked. Martinez previously was the vice chair of the RGA, which is an organization that represents Republican governors throughout the country and seeks to get more Republicans elected to the position. Republicans currently are in the majority of governor’s mansions across the country, 31 in all.
New Mexico candidates and political action committees have paid more than $7 million in consulting fees and media buys to Jay McCleskey and his company since early 2011, an analysis of state campaign finance records shows. McCleskey, Gov. Susana Martinez’s top political adviser and viewed as the mastermind of her 2010 election and 2014 re-election, received another $110,000 in 2014 from a top GOP group Martinez is set to lead next year. It is no secret what McCleskey has pulled down in recent years as a top political consultant, but the money now appears to be under the microscope of an ongoing federal investigation. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday night that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into money the Martinez campaign spent on McCleskey’s services. The influential GOP consultant created McCleskey Media Strategies in 2011 after Martinez took office. Using a database from the Secretary of State’s office, New Mexico In Depth analyzed campaign and political action committee dollars paid to McCleskey, his firm and his wife’s firm since 2011.