COMMENTARY: Another missed opportunity for New Mexico.
On the national stage, Governor Susana Martinez blew it again.
During the roll call of states at the Republican National Convention (RNC), a representative of each state’s delegates gets a chance to announce their votes and brag about their state. Some are long-winded, others are fairly humorous.
But they have personality.
From the RNC roll call, I learned that Alabama is home of the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon. In Florida, there’s 600 miles of pristine beaches. For better or worse, I learned that North Carolina is the home state of Billy Graham. And I learned that Indiana has added 150,000 new jobs since 2013. Maryland dug deep — “The home of the oldest state capitol in continuous use.”
And New Mexico?
Clearly, Governor Martinez isn’t known for her eloquent discourse. But even the other GOP state delegates had the foresight to READ from a script with factoids that make residents proud of their state.
Instead, we literally get the slogan on our license plate and some incoherent mumbling from Governor Martinez.
“I am proud to represent what beautiful exciting and diversily cul … a, a culture that is so diverse. An amazing state. The Land of Enchantment, and the State of New Mexico.” — Gov. Martinez
Here’s what the governor could have, and should have said to give New Mexico its proper commendation.
New Mexico, home of endless blue skies, wide open spaces, rolling deserts and the southern Rockies!
New Mexico, a catalyst of research, engineering, and science innovation and home to two of the nation’s most important national laboratories.
New Mexico, a pristine habitat for wildlife, wilderness and adventure; home to the Gila River, one of the last wild, free-flowing rivers in the Southwest.
New Mexico, home of Santa Fe, the oldest state capital city in the United States.
New Mexico, home of 22 sovereign nations, a state with a rich and complex tapestry of early ancestral tribal history.
You get the point.
Aside from her awful introduction, it was shameful to see her gleefully announce Donald Trump’s selection alongside vice presidential pick Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. I understand that as the chair of the Republican Governors Association, she likely owed Governor Pence and the RGA a favor.
Still, given her reluctance to endorse Trump, her decision to skip Trump’s recent campaign event in Albuquerque, and bashing Trump just weeks ago at a Koch-sponsored fundraiser, it’s a great disappointment that she failed to stand her ground and announced him as her party’s candidate at the RNC.
Granted, she passed the buck to Sam LeDoux, one of the state’s youngest delegates who went on the record to say that Trump wasn’t his first choice, but fell on the sword for the party anyway. She, on the other hand, could have completely declined the appearance and stood her ground.
As the nation’s first Hispanic woman governor, a GOP voice who denounced Trump’s inflammatory comments against immigrants, a descendant of Toribio Ortega, and someone who’s reportedly only two generations away from being a U.S. citizen and admits her grandparents came to the U.S. without documentation, it’s a shame to see her back Trump on national TV.
And if Susana Martinez wanted instead to brag about the accolades that New Mexico has received during her tenure as governor, she could easily have done that, too:
- New Mexico, dead last in education and child well-being
- New Mexico, 49th in child poverty
- New Mexico, where 79 percent of the state’s 8th graders are not proficient at math
- New Mexico, ranked 39th in business climate, down 15 spots in one year, and 49th in economic climate
Governor, next time you’re in the national spotlight representing our state, please come prepared. We would all appreciate it.
Gabe Vasquez is director of communications for a child advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., and a former aide to U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). He is the former executive director of the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and former business editor of the Las Cruces Bulletin.