Heath Haussamen has just broken the story that Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez will announce she is running for Governor of New Mexico at Roberto's restaurant in Las Cruces at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Roberto's is a longstanding poltical hangout for local, statewide, and national candidates. Haussamen called me this afternoon to comment about it, and included some of my comments his blog. The only other announced Republican running for Governor is Greg Zanetti, a financial advisor who rose within the ranks of the New Mexico National Guard to become a Brigadier General and Deputy Commander of the prison at Guantanamo, Cuba. Among Democrats Diane Denish, Lt. Governor for the past few years, appears to have all but locked up the nomination for Governor.
Although Dona Ana County is heavily Democratic, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a margin of 63-37, almost two-to-one out of nearly 110,000 registered voters, Martinez has won several elections, often by huge margins, for District Attorney under the Republican flag, in a county that rarely elects Republicans to any office. Thus, she has proven she can attract Democrats in a county with well over 200,000 residents.
The question is whether Republicans, who are highly under-represented among Hispanics, will find Martinez' moderately conservative message appealing enough to put her on the ballot. Last year, Heather Wilson, a Congresswoman and moderate Republican from Albuquerque, was unable to win a primary election for U.S. Senate against highly conservative Congressman Steve Pearce, who went on to lose the general election by a wide margin to Tom Udall. Pearce has recently announced his intention to run again for the Second Congressional seat he vacated and is currently held by Congressman Harry Teague.