Susana Martinez

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Susana Martinez
Governor of New Mexico
In office
2011 - Present
Years in position 4
Base salary$110,000
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Term limitsN/A
High schoolRiverside High School, El Paso (1977)
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas at El Paso
J.D.University of Oklahoma College of Law
Office website
Susana Martinez, (born July 14, 1959) is an attorney and the current Republican Governor of New Mexico. She was the District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, from 1996 until 2011. Susana ran successfully for Governor of New Mexico in 2010.


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 step son, 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.[1]


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

Political Career

Governor of New Mexico (2010-present)


Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")

In December, 2012, Martinez diverged from the path laid out by most Republican governors with respect to the health-exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare," when she declined to enter New Mexico into the federal exchange system in favor of setting up a state-based system.[2][3] New Mexico is one of eighteen states - including Colorado, New York, Maryland, and Washington - that decided to create and run individual health-exchange systems by the December 14, 2012 deadline. The exchange is an online marketplace for citizens to purchase health insurance.[4]

Deficit higher than expected

For a year, New Mexico’s budget deficit has estimated at $260 million. However, Bill Richardson's financial expert raised the estimate to $452 million, a 74 percent increase. This means the state legislature and incoming Martinez have a more daunting task to balance the fiscal year budget, which starts July 2011 and ends in June of 2012.[5]

Gay marriage recognition

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

Attorney General Gary King responded by saying that although a majority of states bar recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states, he says that New Mexico does 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.

The new Gov. Susana Martinez made note 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.”[6]

Cabinet salaries cut

At the start of Martinez's 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.[7]

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 says it will save the state $400,000 a year.

Susana 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.”[8]

State Investment Council

Rep. Tim Keller and Rep. Steven Neville sponsored a bill in the 2011 session that would kick off Gov. Martinez from the State Investment Council and change the way four legislative appointments on the 10-member SIC board are 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’ 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 has 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.”[9]

Tax reform

Martinez has made tax reform, namely cutting the state corporate tax from 7.6 percent to 4.9 percent, a priority for 2013.[10]


Lawsuit against Gov. Martinez

Mimi Stewart, Henry Saavedra, John Arthur Smith and “Lucky” Varela filed two lawsuits against Gov. Susana 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) May 19, 2011 that in his opinion two line-item vetoes made by Gov. Martinez violate 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, Gov. Martinez firmly said she disagreed.

“I could protest any governor doing this … it’s not partisan,” 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 is 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 is “unconstitutional and, hence, unenforceable.”

The second veto came when Gov. 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.”[11][12]

District Attorney (1996-2010)

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



Martinez was the Republican candidate for the November 2, 2010 Gubernatorial election, facing Democratic 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.[13]

Martinez won the election, with 54 percent of the vote to Denish’s 46 percent, becoming New Mexico's first female governor.[14]

Campaign ad "causing a ruckus"

"Convicted" campaign ad

Martinez's newest TV ad for her campaign is popular with Republicans, but angering Democrats. Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican collected a roundup of Democrat and GOP reactions. Terrell clarified a few facts from each side.[15][16]

Campaign donors

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.[17] Click [show] for more information.

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. San Francisco Chronicle "20 Latino political rising stars of 2012 (with PHOTO GALLERY)," August 25, 2012
  2. The Daily Times, "Governor Susana Martinez to tackle state-based health exchange," January 9, 2013
  3. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  4. The New York Times, "Most states miss deadline to set up health exchange," December 14, 2012
  5. "URGENT: NM budget deficit NOT $260 million — try $452 million!" New Mexico Watchdog, November 12, 2010
  6. "NM Attorney General’s opinion: NM should recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere," New Mexico Watchdog, January 4, 2011
  7. "Cabinet salaries cut: Gov. Martinez says administration “will lead by example”," New Mexico Watchdog, January 5, 2011
  8. "The DNA Lab standoff between Richardson and Martinez," New Mexico Watchdog, December 28, 2010
  9. "Bill kicking Governor off the State Investment Council in jeopardy," Capital Report New Mexico, April 5, 2011
  10. Wall Street Journal, "The State Tax Reformers," January 29, 2013
  11. "Lawmakers file suit over Susana vetoes," Capitol Report New Mexico, May 26, 2011
  12. "Legislative director says two vetoes from Susana are unconstitutional," Capitol Report New Mexico, May 19, 2011
  13. "A look at the money trail in the Governor’s race," New Mexico Watchdog, October 29, 2010
  14. "Martinez beats Denish, becoming first NM woman governor," New Mexico Independent, November 3, 2010
  15. "Here’s the Susana Martinez ad that’s causing a ruckus," by Rob Nikolewski, New Mexico Watchdog, September 11, 2010
  16. "Best Ad of the Year?" Roundhouse Roundup, September 10, 2010
  17. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by