Susana Martinez (R)

New Mexico Governor (since January 2011)

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Why She Matters

The first Latino woman to be elected governor in the United States, Martinez is rapidly becoming an important national star for a Republican Party lacking in diversity. She is New Mexico's first female governor and her name is in the mix as a possible vice-presidential nominee in 2012.

This from The Fix’s Chris Cillizza:

“She was elected with relatively little fanfare in 2010 as the governor of New Mexico, the first Hispanic woman governor — Democrat or Republican — in the country. Romney has floated Martinez’s name as a potential vice president and the Land of Enchantment is regarded as a swing state this fall. Still, Martinez was the Dona Anna County District Attorney less than four years ago and may not yet be ready for the national spotlight.”

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At a Glance

  • Career History: District Attorney, New Mexico 3rd Judicial District (1997-January 2011); Assistant District Attorney, New Mexico 3rd Judicial District (1986-1992)
  • Hometown: El Paso, Texas
  • Alma Mater: University of Texas at El Paso, B.A.; University of Oklahoma , J.D.
  • Spouse: Chuck Franco

Path To Power

Martinez grew up in a working-class Texas family. Her mother worked administrative jobs and her father was a boxer in the Marines and later, the county sheriff. When her father formed his own private security company, he charged young Susana, still a teenager, with the responsibility of patroling parking lots at bingo games. She was armed for the job and reportedly carried her own gun.

Martinez's political career began when she was elected president of her El Paso high school class. She was encouraged by her public-school teachers to pursue a career in public service. After pursuing a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, she earned her law degree in Oklahoma. Her first job was as assistant district attorney.

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The Issues

A social conservative, Martinez is against abortion rights.

She is against domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage and against adoption by same-sex couples.

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The Network

During her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Martinez was endorsed by Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The Martinez campaign was funded in part by the Republican Governors Association and Texas couple Robert and Doylene Perry, who helped fund the 2004 Swift Boat campaign against 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Martinez has also received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from gas and oil producers.

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