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Exclusive interview with Gov. Susana Martinez: “Absolutely not” interested in VP nomination, “time to vote” on repealing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

By   /   December 27, 2011  /   No Comments

In an interview with Capitol Report New Mexico on Tuesday (Dec. 27), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez swatted down rumblings that she could be a possible vice-presidential candidate for the future 2012 Republican presidential nominee and said she will definitely place a bill repealing the state’s controversial law that grants driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants on the agenda for the upcoming 30-day legislative session.

We’ll start with the national politics first.

Martinez has had her name floated as a possible GOP running mate and on Tuesday, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call came out with a story saying:

The eventual Republican presidential nominee is likely to come calling for some additional reasons: Martinez is female and Hispanic, and she could be an effective surrogate as the GOP tries to oust President Barack Obama by targeting those key demographics.

With the Iowa caucus just one week away, Capitol Report New Mexico asked the governor about whether she’s favoring one Republican candidate over the others and then asked her about the vice presidential rumors. Here’s what she said:

Pretty definitive.

As for New Mexico politics, the 30-day legislative session begins in three weeks. In a 30-day session, every bill outside of those dealing with budgets and taxes has to receive a message of approval from the governor’s office — deeming it germane — in order to be introduced at the Roundhouse.

While she is still considering what bills will make the cut, Martinez said Tuesday will definitely introduce the following:

*Tax reform for small businesses across the state

*An education bill callling for the end of “social promotion” for public education students who cannot read at a proficient rate after the third grade

*Re-introducing a bill that generated a lot heat in the 60-day session in 2011 — to rescind the state law passed during the admnistration of her predecessor, Bill Richardson, that allows illegal immigrants in the state to obtain driver’s licenses. Supporters of the law say it’s contributes to public safety by making sure that illegal immigrants don’t hide from the law should they be involved in traffic incidents. But critics say the law has made New Mexico a destination for people from all over the country and outside the US to obtain licenses under false pretenses.

In March of 2011, a bill sponsored by Independent state Rep. Andy Nuñez blasted its way through the House of Representatives but was defeated on the floor of the state Senate after passionate debate.

Here’s Martinez on why she wants to bring the bill back:

On other issues, the governor said she has not yet met with state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque), who caused an uproar earlier this month for angrily accusing a Republican colleage of “carrying the Mexican’s water on the fourth floor,” which is where the governor’s office in the Roundhouse is located. Stapleton publicly apologized and said she would meet with Martinez personally. The governor says she and Stapleton are working out their schedules to get together.

On a related note, the Albuquerque Journal recently revealed that a silent security video of the Stapleton outburst exists but that the head of the Legislative Council Service won’t release it. Council service executive director Raul Burciaga told the Journal the videos “really don’t relate to public business.”

But Martinez disagrees. “I’m sorry, it should be released,” she said. “It is in a public building, it is maybe held for security reasons but having worked as prosecutor, in a building — district courthouse — where we had cameras, if there was an IPRA [Inspection of Public Records Act] request, it was provided.”

In other legislative news, Martinez said she’s unfamiliar with a bill state Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park) wants to introduce that would put restrictions on owners of pit bulls in New Mexico. Beffort’s bill has generated fierce opposition from some animal groups, who are urging Martinez to keep it off “the call.”

As for a campaign expenditure bill that’s been prefiled by state Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and co-sponsored by Republican state Rep. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque aimed at revealing the amounts and the identities of those making big contributions, the governor says she’s in the process of examining it. “I haven’t seen the language on it yet,” Martinez said, “but certainly with the more transparency often is a good thing as far as campaign contributions; that’s certainly important that the public knows who’s contributing.”

Finally, after a year in office, Capitol Report New Mexico asked Martinez what’s she learned:


If you’d like to see the entire 7-minute interview uncut, click here.


Rob formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.