Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Politico On Susana's "Softer Touch"

Gov. Susana MartinezGov. Susana Martinez shares the spotlight with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in a Politico article about Republican governors "who have accomplished some of the same conservative policy goals as their higher-profile counterparts with a fraction of the backlash."

Martinez and Sandoval, the piece says, "have fought to keep their heads down and the ideological stakes low. In a nation clamoring for compromise and political civility, theirs is a model to watch."

“That’s where we sort of lost our way,” said Martinez, asked about the confrontational, ideological conservatism of the new wave of Republican leaders. “I am a conservative but we shouldn’t allow single words to really define us.”
Politico points out that while new GOP governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida and John Kaisich of Ohio have their poll numbers in the toilet, Martinez and Sandoval are still popular in their respective states.

There's some familiar names quoted in the story. Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque, is named as a Democrat who has fought Martinez on some issues but worked with her on ohters.

“Governor Martinez is very good at appealing to a broad spectrum of New Mexicans, and while she is conservative, her demeanor and her tone don’t connote someone who is a die-hard ideologue ,” said Al Park, the Chairman of the New Mexico House judiciary committee and a Democrat who fought Martinez on the state budget and on her successful push to slash the state’s generous film subsidies, but worked with her on anti-corruption legislation.

“While you can disagree on policy,” he said, Martinez’s outreach “tempers the vitriol.”
It reminds me of something AFSCME's Carter Bundy told me after a labor rally during the regular session this year when I asked him whether New Mexico would be "the next Wisconsin" as some speakers said. "She's more moderate," Bundy said of Martinez. "And you don't have the same kind of politics in New Mexico where everyone tries to nuke the other side. There's serious debate here, but there's something to be said about a place where people don't to personally destroy each other.""

One issue Politico didn't mention, however, was Martinez's push to repeal the law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. That's a very emotional, highly divisive issue and it's going to rise again during the special session.

Martinez frequently refers to polls showing the public backs her position on this issue. Time will tell whether it damages her national reputation as a moderate.