Susana Martinez

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Susana Martinez
Susana Martinez headshot.jpg
Governor of New Mexico
In office
2011 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 4
PredecessorBill Richardson (D)
Base salary$110,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$7,581,963
Term limits2 consecutive terms
Prior offices
District Attorney, 3rd Judicial District, Doña Ana County
High schoolRiverside High School, El Paso (1977)
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas at El Paso
J.D.University of Oklahoma College of Law
Date of birthJuly 14, 1959
Place of birthEl Paso, Texas
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Susana Martinez, (born July 14, 1959, in El Paso, TX) is the 31st and current Governor of New Mexico. Martinez, a Republican, first won election on November 2, 2010, defeating former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish (D) with 53.3 percent of the vote. Martinez is New Mexico's first female governor as well as the nation's first female Hispanic governor.[1] Martinez sought re-election in the 2014 elections.[2] Susana Martinez won the general election on November 4, 2014.

An attorney by trade, Martinez previously served as District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, from 1997 until 2011.[3]

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Martinez as the 24th most conservative governor in the country.[4]

Martinez was a Democrat until 1995, when she switched to the Republican Party.[5]


Martinez grew up in the Rio Grande Valley in El Paso, Texas, where she worked as a security guard for the business her parents started and ran from their home. Her father, a former Golden Gloves boxer, was the deputy sheriff for El Paso County.

After college and law school, Martinez moved to New Mexico in the 1980s. She and her husband, Chuck Franco, live in Las Cruces. Franco currently serves as the Doña Ana County Undersheriff and has worked in law enforcement for 30 years.

She has one stepson, Carlos, who serves in the U.S. Navy.

In August 2012, she was included in a list of 20 Latino political rising stars compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle, and in 2013 Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[6][7]


  • University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • Riverside High School, El Paso, 1977

Political Career

Governor of New Mexico (2011-present)


Third grade retention

In November 2013, Martinez supported the idea of retaining students who could not read at a minimal level by the end of the third grade. While most Democrats opposed the idea, Martinez and supporters attempted and failed to get the legislature to pass a third-grade retention bill. She planned to introduce the measure again in 2014.[8]

Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")
See also: website rollout and Health insurance policy cancellations since Obamacare

In December 2012, Martinez diverged from most Republican governors when she declined to enter New Mexico into the federal exchange system, as established under the Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," in favor of setting up a state-based system.[9][10] New Mexico was one of 18 states—including Colorado, New York, Maryland and Washington—that decided to create and run individual health-exchange systems by the deadline on December 14, 2012. The exchange is an online marketplace for citizens to purchase health insurance.[11]

Deficit higher than expected

For a year prior to Martinez taking office, New Mexico’s budget deficit was estimated at $260 million. However, then-Gov. Bill Richardson's (D) financial expert raised the estimate to $452 million, a 74 percent increase. This meant the state legislature and incoming Martinez had a more daunting task to balance the fiscal year budget, which started July 2011 and ended in June 2012.[12]

Gay marriage recognition

In the stretch before the beginning of the 2011 session, Rep. Al Park asked Attorney General Gary King for an opinion on whether same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions were valid in New Mexico.

King responded by saying that although a majority of states barred recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states, New Mexico did not have an explicit statute prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage from out of state.

"We conclude that a court addressing the issue would likely hold … that a valid same-sex marriage from another jurisdiction is valid in New Mexico,” said King.

Martinez noted in 2011 that she "made it clear during the campaign that she opposes same-sex marriage. It’s important to note that no New Mexico court has ruled on this issue."[13]

In December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in New Mexico.[14]

Cabinet salaries cut

At the start of her term as governor in early 2011, Martinez informed the public that the cabinet would "lead by example" and live with a salary cut.

"No cabinet secretary will earn higher than $125,000 per year. During the previous administration, cabinet secretaries earned as high as $188,158 per year," said Martinez in a statement.[15]

DNA lab

In late December 2010, the state Supreme Court granted departing Department of Public Safety boss John Denko the authority to move the state’s DNA lab from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Denko said it would save the state $400,000 a year.

Martinez released this statement upon hearing the news:

“It is politics at its worst to move the DNA lab to Santa Fe in the final hours of the current administration only to move it back to Albuquerque on Monday, which is exactly what will happen. Instead, we should be putting victims and justice first. The move is opposed by both Republicans and Democrats, along with victims’ advocates and law enforcement. I will not be bullied into doing anything that will jeopardize cases and justice for New Mexico victims.”[16]
Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Martinez was ranked number 43 (tie). The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[17][18]

State Investment Council

Rep. Tim Keller and Rep. Steven Neville sponsored a bill in the 2011 session that would have removed Martinez from the State Investment Council and changed the way four legislative appointments on the 10-member SIC board were selected.

The legislation passed the Senate 38-2 and was approved by the House of Representatives 50-18. In early April 2011, it sat on Gov. Martinez’s desk with an April 8 deadline for signing it, vetoing it or pocket vetoing it.

Neville and Keller learned that the Governor’s Office “had some real hesitations with this bill,” Keller said. Neville said the governor’s staff indicated to him that the governor herself wanted to talk personally to him and/or Keller about some questions she had with the measure.

“We’re not trying to pull anything on her,” Neville said. “We’re trying to correct the things that happened under [previous Gov. Bill] Richardson.”

“We’re still going through the process of reviewing legislation,” Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said. ”A final decision has not yet been made on SB 17, but the Governor’s stance was very clear throughout the legislative session. As we’ve relayed: The Governor supports removing all politicians from the State Investment Council and requiring that those appointed to serve in their place meet minimum qualifications of having at least 10 years of professional investing experience.”[19]

Martinez vetoed the bill on April 8, 2011.[20]

Tax reform

Martinez made tax reform, namely cutting the state corporate tax from 7.6 percent to 4.9 percent, a priority for 2013.[21]


In April 2013, Martinez killed 70 bills, either by veto or by not acting on them. This total was nearly one-fourth of all measures passed during the legislative session. The vetoed legislation included a bill to shore up the judicial retirement system and a bill to give the Public Education Commission final word on charter schools.[22]

The full list of bills signed and vetoed is available here.


Lawsuit against Gov. Martinez

In 2011, Mimi Stewart, Henry Saavedra, John Arthur Smith and “Lucky” Varela filed two lawsuits against Gov. Martinez over her line item vetoes in an unemployment bill and a housing bill.

Raul Burciaga, the director of the Legislative Council Service, told committee members of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) on May 19, 2011, that in his opinion two line-item vetoes made by Gov. Martinez violated the state’s constitution.

“Some of the governor’s vetoes seem to impinge on the legislature’s appropriation powers and plow new ground in a governor’s exercise of the veto authority,” said Burciaga.

That day, Martinez firmly said she disagreed.

“I could protest any governor doing this … it’s not partisan,” said Sen. Stuart Ingle. “She’s a good governor … but it’s a little bit of stretch to do this.”

Burciaga testified that the veto Martinez made in unemployment bill H.B. 59 was part of a revenue bill and “did not authorize the expenditure of state money because that authorization was already in statute and not amended in this bill.” Burciaga said the veto was “unconstitutional and, hence, unenforceable.”

The second veto came when Martinez reduced an appropriation the legislature made to budget bill H.B. 2 from $150,000 to $50,000. Burciaga said that while state courts have not addressed the issue specifically, reducing “an item of appropriation is a legislative function that the governor has no power to do.”

“I think we need to challenge this in the courts,” Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D-Santa Fe) said.

“The main difficulty I have is changing the figure [from $150,000 down to $50,000 in HB2],” Ingle said, expressing concern that if the current partisan makeup of the Roundhouse were reversed, a future Democratic governor could assume greater power at the expense of the legislative branch. ”We just can’t go there.”[23][24]

District Attorney (1996-2010)

Martinez was elected as District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in New Mexico in 1996 with close to 60 percent of the vote. She was re-elected three times, and was unopposed for her 2008 re-election.

On The Issues Vote Match

Susana Martinez's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the analysis, Martinez is a Moderate Populist Conservative.[25] Note: We are working to resolve inaccuracies with this information. Thank you for your patience.

On The Issues organization logo.



See also: New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2014

Martinez ran for re-election as Governor of New Mexico in 2014. Martinez was uncontested in the primary on June 3, 2014. The general election took place November 4, 2014. [26]


General election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngSusana Martinez/John A. Sanchez Incumbent 57.2% 293,443
     Democrat Gary King/Debra Haaland 42.8% 219,362
Total Votes 512,805
Election Results via New Mexico Secretary of State.

Race background

Campaign finance lawsuit

The gubernatorial race heated up in summer 2014 as Democratic candidate Gary King faced accusations of accepting excessive contributions following his primary election victory. Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R) directed King's campaign staff to deposit $10,900 in excessive contributions to the state elections fund by August 4. The order focused on $10,400 from a couple in Taos and $500 from a Santa Fe resident that pushed King's campaign over the $5,200 limit for the primary.[27]

King filed a lawsuit with the New Mexico Supreme Court on the due date contesting the secretary's order. He claimed that the contributions were acceptable as they would be used to eliminate his campaign's debt from the primary. King also criticized Duran for using her authority as secretary of state to advantage fellow Republican and incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez. His lawsuit also pointed out that Martinez and other candidates gathered contributions exceeding $5,200 ahead of the primary.[27] On August 14, Duran issued a letter to King stating that he could exceed the contribution limit for the primary election in order to pay down campaign debts. The secretary of state had proposed a similar policy in December 2013, which was never implemented for the 2014 election.[28]

Campaign media

Helping People


Mom and Pop

Average Capabilities

Good To Be The King

No Regrets

Susana Martinez ad: Insider Deals

"Convicted" campaign ad


See also: New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2010

Martinez was the Republican candidate for Governor of New Mexico in the general election on November 2, 2010. She faced Democratic candidate Diane Denish.

In the three weeks prior to Election Day, Martinez spent $2.1 million, with about 75 percent of that going to advertising. Immediately prior to the election, Martinez raised $1.1 million. Her biggest donor was Denver developer Larry Mizel, with a $50,000 donation. Martinez and Denish spent about $5 million during the election cycle, as of November 2, 2010.[29]

Martinez won the election with 54 percent of the vote to Denish’s 46 percent, becoming New Mexico's first female governor.[30]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Martinez is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Martinez raised a total of $7,581,963 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 21, 2013.[31]

Susana Martinez's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of New Mexico Not up for election $137,511
2010 Governor of New Mexico Won $7,444,452
Grand Total Raised $7,581,963


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Susana Martinez's donors each year.[32] Click [show] for more information.

Recent news

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Susana Martinez News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. New Mexico Independent, "Martinez beats Denish, becoming first NM woman governor," November 3, 2010
  2. Albuquerque Journal, "Gov. raises $372,000 for re-election," April 9, 2013
  3. Office of the Governor of New Mexico, " Governor Susana Martinez," accessed August 7, 2013
  4. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  5., "Susana Martinez biography," accessed August 7, 2013
  6. San Francisco Chronicle, "20 Latino political rising stars of 2012 (with PHOTO GALLERY)," August 25, 2012
  7. KTSM, "Governor Martinez makes Time Magazine's top 100 list," April 18, 2013
  8., "Governor, Democrats on different pages when it comes to reading standards," accessed December 9, 2013
  9. The Daily Times, "Governor Susana Martinez to tackle state-based health exchange," January 9, 2013
  10. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  11. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  12. New Mexico Watchdog, "URGENT: NM budget deficit NOT $260 million — try $452 million!" November 12, 2010
  13. New Mexico Watchdog, "NM Attorney General’s opinion: NM should recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere," January 4, 2011
  14. Washington Post, "New Mexico Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage," December 19, 2013
  15. New Mexico Watchdog, "Cabinet salaries cut: Gov. Martinez says administration 'will lead by example,'" January 5, 2011
  16. New Mexico Watchdog, "The DNA Lab standoff between Richardson and Martinez," December 28, 2010
  17. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  18. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  19. Capital Report New Mexico, "Bill kicking Governor off the State Investment Council in jeopardy," April 5, 2011
  20. Capitol Report New Mexico, "Gov Martinez OKs a budget (with some line-item vetoes) and nixes a slew of other bills on her desk," April 8, 2011
  21. Wall Street Journal, "The State Tax Reformers," January 29, 2013
  22. Albuquerque Journal, " Governor vetoes 70 measures," April 6, 2013
  23. Capitol Report New Mexico, "Lawmakers file suit over Susana vetoes," accessed May 26, 2011
  24. Capitol Report New Mexico, "Legislative director says two vetoes from Susana are unconstitutional," accessed May 19, 2011
  25. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named ontheissues
  26. Albuquerque Journal, "Martinez Wastes No Time Preparing for Next Run," December 10, 2012
  27. 27.0 27.1 The Modesto Bee, "Gary King files lawsuit over campaign money," August 4, 2014 (dead link)
  28. Albuquerque Journal, "For the secretary of state, another course change," August 18, 2014
  29. New Mexico Watchdog, "A look at the money trail in the Governor’s race," October 29, 2010
  30. New Mexico Independent, "Martinez beats Denish, becoming first NM woman governor," November 3, 2010
  31. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Susana Martinez," accessed May 21, 2013
  32. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Richardson (D)
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by