N.M. Gov. Susana Martinez has endorsed Marco Rubio in the GOP presidential primary, saying there’s too much at stake to stay on the sidelines.
“Marco Rubio is a compelling leader who can unite the country around conservative principles that will improve the lives of all Americans,” Politico quoted New Mexico’s governor as saying.
“The stakes for our great country are too high — and the differences between the candidates too great — for me to remain neutral in this race,” she said. “I wholeheartedly trust Marco to keep us safe and ensure a better tomorrow.”
Martinez will campaign with Rubio on Friday in Kansas and Saturday in Florida — his home state and a must-win for a candidate who is trailing Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Kansas’ GOP caucus is Saturday. Florida’s primary is March 15.
Martinez, who chairs the Republican Governor’s Association, had previously stayed out of the presidential race. She had also declined to say whether she would back Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, if he became the nominee.
Martinez’s decision to back Rubio comes after Trump won a number of states on Super Tuesday, making it more likely he will become the party’s nominee. And her endorsement comes about a week after N.J. Gov. Chris Christie — long a Martinez ally — backed Trump.
As chair of the RGA, Martinez led a call of GOP governors days ago to discuss the presidential race. Christie’s backing of Trump was a hot topic.
As news of Martinez’s endorsement of Rubio broke early Thursday, some New Mexico Republicans were pleased. State Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, who chairs Rubio’s campaign in New Mexico, tweeted that she was “excited.” Darren White, the former Bernalillo County sheriff, tweeted that he was “very proud” of Martinez and agreed that the stakes were too high to stay on the sidelines.
Martinez has often been mentioned by many Republicans, including Rubio, as someone who would make a good vice presidential candidate. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has endorsed her to be the party’s vice presidential candidate.
Ahead of New Mexico’s June 7 primary, Republican primary voters were split in a recent poll of the presidential primary. The survey, conducted by Research & Polling Inc. for the Albuquerque Journal, found Cruz at 25 percent, Trump at 24 percent, and Rubio at 19 percent.
Meanwhile, a separate survey of likely Democratic primary voters in New Mexico conducted by Research & Polling for the Journal had Hillary Clinton at 47 percent and Bernie Sanders at 33 percent.