Gov. Susana Martinez is in a precarious position, and soon enough she’ll have to take a stand on the question of Donald Trump.
As chair of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s first and only Hispanic female governor, her endorsement would mean a lot to the presumptive Republican nominee. But he’s done nothing to deserve it, and I think she, along with a lot of New Mexicans, knows it.
If she doesn’t endorse him and he’s actually elected, she’ll have hell to pay. He’d probably direct his venom toward the state of New Mexico—which depends heavily on federal funds coming into the state.
But if she does endorse him, she’ll lose the respect of a whole lot of her constituents.
Remember Trump’s comments last year about Mexican immigrants being drug dealers and rapists, and how she publicly denounced his comments? And remember earlier this year, when he came to Albuquerque on a campaign stop, and she said she was too busy to attend his rally, so he badmouthed her in his speech? So far, she’s held her ground and refused to be intimidated by his rise to prominence in her party—to which I say, good for her.
But that was then and this is now. Here we are in July, a month away from the Republican National Convention when he will most likely be nominated to carry the party standard into the general election. Soon enough, she’ll be under considerable pressure to endorse the man and his candidacy. Whether she does or doesn’t will make national news.
It could also have a direct impact on her political viability going forward, especially in New Mexico.
If Trump is elected president, he’ll be in a position to dry up the funds that come into New Mexico’s national laboratories and air bases—both major contributors to the wobbly economy upon which this state works. But if she endorses him, his appreciation might go a long way in keeping those federal dollars flowing into the state.
On the other hand, her endorsement of Trump would also lose her a lot of respectability among those who support her—namely among crossover Democrats who helped elect her governor and her Hispanic supporters, many of whom are deeply and justifiably offended by Trump.
Remember, this is a man who said he couldn’t get a fair hearing in front of an Hispanic judge because he’s of “Mexican heritage”—a statement that was so racist that even the Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, called it exactly that. Indubitably, it’s hard not to see the racism in his statement.
Personally, I think Martinez should ride the political risk and choose not to endorse Trump. For one thing, I think he’s going to lose, so the danger to New Mexico’s future is distant.
For another, I think she should demand of him a greater respect for the people she represents. And even if he does start tempering his disrespectful rhetoric, it’s hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention would consider him sincere. Clearly, he doesn’t respect anyone who doesn’t share his distorted worldview, and no amount of back-peddling is going to change that.
And finally, for Martinez to endorse him would be a clear case of political expediency over actual principle.
I’ve often disagreed with Martinez, but I respect her. I voted for her. But if she were to endorse this hatemongering opportunist, I don’t think I could ever vote for her again, for anything. I’d lose all respect for her, and I wouldn’t be the only one.
I don’t expect her to endorse Hillary Clinton, or even our own Gary Johnson (though that’s an intriguing thought); there is just too much of a gap between her political and philosophical perspectives and theirs. But she shouldn’t endorse Trump.
I see it as a test for our governor. How far is she willing to go for political expediency when it runs contrary to her personal principles? I think she knows he’d be bad for the country, and for New Mexico too, federal money or no. If she endorses him, expediency wins the day.
So if by chance you’re reading this, governor, please, don’t endorse Trump. I think you’re better than that.
Tom McDonald is editor and founder of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.