Susana Martinez

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Susana Martinez
Governor NewMexico.jpg
31st Governor of New Mexico
Assumed office
January 1, 2011
Lieutenant John Sánchez
Preceded by Bill Richardson
Personal details
Born Mary Copeland
(1959-07-14) July 14, 1959 (age 56)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1995)
Republican (1995–present)
Spouse(s) Chuck Franco (1991–present)
Children Carlo (Stepson)
Alma mater University of Texas, El Paso
University of Oklahoma
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Government website

Susana Martinez (born July 14, 1959) is an American attorney and politician. She is the 31st and current Governor of New Mexico and current chairman of the Republican Governors Association.[1][2] A Republican, Martinez was elected Governor on November 2, 2010, and was sworn into office on January 1, 2011, becoming the first Hispanic woman governor.[3]

Born in El Paso, Texas, Martinez is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. After graduating from college and being admitted to the State Bar of New Mexico, she began her career as an assistant district attorney for New Mexico's 3rd Judicial District in Las Cruces in 1986, before being appointed deputy district attorney in 1992. She then ran for District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, in 1996 after joining the Republican Party and defeating her former boss; she served three terms as district attorney from 1997 to 2011.[citation needed]

After incumbent Governor Bill Richardson was term limited, Martinez declared her candidacy for the governorship. She won in a five-candidate Republican primary and went on to defeat the former Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico Diane Denish with 53% of the vote in the general election. Four years later, she was reelected in a landslide against Attorney General Gary King. She is the first woman to be elected Governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic female governor in the United States.[4][5][6] In 2013, she was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.[7]

Early life, education and early career[edit]

Martinez was born on July 14, 1959, in El Paso, Texas. She was brought up in a middle-class family of Mexican descent. Her father, Jacobo Martinez, was a boxer for the U.S. Marines during the Korean War, and won three straight Golden Gloves titles in the 1950s. He was a deputy sheriff for El Paso County.[8] Her mother, Paula Aguirre, worked in various offices. Susana Martinez has two siblings, a sister and a brother.[8][9] Martinez is the legal guardian and caretaker of her older sister, Lettie, who has cerebral palsy and is developmentally disabled.[10]

Martinez attended Riverside High School in El Paso where she was student body president.[8] An honors student, she graduated in 1977. She earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas at El Paso. While at UTEP, she worked for her father's security guard company. Martinez patrolled a parking lot of a Catholic bingo hall and has said she carried a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum while on the job.[11] In 1981, Martinez pursued her J.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and graduated in 1986.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Martinez met her first husband in Norman, Oklahoma, where they were both attending law school. The couple moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the mid-1980s, but divorced three years later. She met her current husband, Chuck Franco, in Las Cruces, where they both worked in law enforcement.[citation needed] He has been a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years and served as the Doña Ana County Undersheriff. Martinez has one stepson, Carlo, who served in the United States Navy.[13]

On September 9, 2011, Martinez stated she did know that her paternal grandparents Adolfo Martinez and Francisca Ortega "arrived without documents."[14] Thorough research revealed that they appeared to have followed the rules at the time and that she is a great-granddaughter of Mexican Revolutionary General Toribio Ortega.[15] On November 14, 2011, Martinez visited Cuchillo Parado, Mexico, for a celebration in honor of her great grandfather, "a revolutionary general who led a band of supporters credited as being the first to take up arms on November 14, 1910, against a decades-long dictator".[15]

FBI Investigation[edit]

On November 7, 2015, The Santa Fe New Mexican revealed that the FBI was conducting an investigation into Martinez’s fundraising activities going back to her first run for governor. The investigation focused on one of Martinez's chief political consultants Jay McCleskey. McCleskey ran both Martinez’ gubernatorial campaigns as well as numerous political action committees and super PACs which have contributed heavily to various Republican candidates and causes throughout the past five years.[16]

Two days later, Martinez dismissed charges against McCleskey. She also confirmed that both she and her staff had been interviewed by the FBI about the investigation. [17]

Dialing 911[edit]

Staff at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called police in the early hours (1:30am) of December 13, 2015 concerning a noisy party occurring on the hotel premises after complaints from other hotel guests had already generated warnings. Party goers included Governor Martinez, members of the Governor's family and some of the Governor's staff. Hotel staff told police that the rowdy guests had been throwing bottles off their hotel room balcony. The hotel staff didn't know at the time police were called that Martinez was attending the party. Governor Martinez is heard on a 911 tape, released by the Santa Fe police, repeatedly asking who made the complaint and telling the police dispatcher that their investigation of the noise complaint should be called off and that officers were not needed.[18] She repeatedly tells dispatchers and officers that she was with her family "eating pizza" and "drinking cokes". Governor Martinez's sobriety during the incident has been called in question by news outlets, politicians, hotel security, and police. [19] [20] On December 22, 2015 a belt tape recording from a Santa Fe Police Sergeant responding to the hotel caught Martinez admitting, "there was somebody that we said, ‘Get out of the room. Do not be doing what you’re doing.’ There were bottles being thrown over. We said, ‘Get the hell out and stop.'” This statement made by Martinez is contrary to her official statement by her spokesperson that, “Unbeknownst to the Governor, .... someone throwing what turned out to be snowballs from the balcony of that room...." Also in the belt tape recording, both police officers and hotel security discuss a solution to the incident in which both refer to the Governor as "inebriated".[21] [22]


District Attorney's office[edit]

Assistant and deputy[edit]

Martinez was Assistant District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District, serving Doña Ana County, New Mexico, from 1986 to 1992.[25] As Assistant District Attorney, she developed a specialty in the office of working with sexually abused children and developing a multidisciplinary team (that included help for victims) and she participated in seminars that would relate specifically to domestic violence and sexual offenses, rapes and women and children. The district attorney for whom she worked, Doug Driggers, promoted her to Deputy District Attorney.[8]

Firing and return[edit]

Martinez was later appointed as Deputy District Attorney. She helped campaign for Driggers as he was running for a third term as District Attorney. Driggers lost the Democratic primary election to Gregory Valdez, a defense attorney. Martinez was fired by Valdez shortly after his victory in the general election. Valdez claims that he fired Martinez because of a specific case she handled, she had missed key timelines.[26] Martinez filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Valdez and was awarded an out-of-court settlement of $100,000 to $120,000.[27] She later twice defeated Valdez in the general election for District Attorney with approximate 18-point and 20-point wins respectively.[8]


Martinez was first elected district attorney in the 3rd Judicial District in 1996 with nearly 60% of the vote.[28] She was re-elected three more times.

As a prosecutor, Martinez focused on cases involving public corruption and child abuse.[29] She worked to pass legislation that would expand Katie's Law. This would "require a DNA sample for all felony arrests". During her first term as Governor, she signed the expansion bill into law in April 2011.[30]

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]


With 51% of the vote in a five-way contest, Martinez won the Republican nomination for Governor of New Mexico in the primary election on June 1, 2010. Martínez defeated PR firm owner Doug Turner, State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones, Pete Domenici, Jr. (son of the former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici), and former Republican Party state chairman Allen Weh. During the primary campaign, Martinez was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[31]


With 53% of the vote, Martinez defeated Diane Denish, then lieutenant governor of New Mexico in the general election on November 2, 2010. One element of her platform was to secure the United States – Mexico border from illegal immigrants. Martinez defeated Denish by over 40,605 votes, she received 321,219 votes to Denish's 280,614 votes. The Martinez v. Denish race, and the simultaneous Mary Fallin v. Jari Askins race in Oklahoma, were the third and fourth cases of woman vs. woman gubernatorial races in U.S. history (since the elections of Kay Orr in Nebraska in 1986 and Linda Lingle in Hawaii in 2002). Each of the victors was the Republican woman candidate.[32]

Governor of New Mexico (2011–present)[edit]

Martínez speaking at the Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry's statue unveiling, June 24, 2013

When Martinez took office she set out a budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 and 2013, as well as establishing a moratorium on all state vehicle purchases until 2012.[33] She barred all state agencies from hiring lobbyists.[33][34]

On January 31, 2011, Martinez signed an executive order rescinding sanctuary status for illegal immigrants who commit crimes in New Mexico.[35]

Martinez counts among her legislative victories: "the cap on film [tax] credits; a bill that would exempt locomotive fuel from state gross-receipts tax; and an expansion of Katie's Law, which will require law-enforcement officials to obtain DNA samples from all suspects booked on felony charges". She supported and signed a bill that will "assign schools the grades of A to F based on student achievement and other factors, such as high-school graduation rates. Martinez described her push for education reforms as 'a hard-fought battle against those who continued to defend the status quo'". In April 2011, Martinez signed the expansion bill on Katie's Law.[30]

In 2011, the Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled twice against actions by Martínez. "In January, the court unanimously decided that Martinez acted improperly when she requested the state's records administrator delay publishing greenhouse-gas emissions rules that the state Environmental Improvement Board approved shortly before she took office." In addition, a unanimous court ruled on April 13, 2011, that "Gov. Susana Martinez lacked authority to arbitrarily remove two members of the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board."[36] During 2011, Martinez attended her first "Tribal-State Summit," as required by New Mexico in which the governor meets with the 22 recognized tribes annually. The topics of discussion for 2011 were tribal economic development and infrastructure; health care; natural resources,; water, and education.[37]

Martínez has pushed for an increase in private investment to complete the US$212 million state-funded[38] Spaceport America project. In order to drive the new effort, Gov. Martinez appointed an entirely new board of directors to oversee the Spaceport Authority.[39] In 2012, Martinez sold the state's luxury jet, which she called "the ultimate symbol of waste and excess"; it sold for $2.51 million.[40]

As a result of the Las Conchas Fire, the second largest wildfire in state history, Martínez issued a state of emergency with regard to the use of fireworks.[41] After the Las Conchas Fire burned to within miles of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Martinez made the removal of radioactive waste a top priority.[42] As the fire contributed significantly to the flooding that followed, Martinez asked the Obama administration for federal relief funding.[43]

The chief medical officer for the New Mexico Department of Health, and the deputy secretary, both resigned in 2012. The individuals allege that Martinez ordered their termination for promoting birth control to the public.[44] Martinez, and the New Mexico Department of Health, denied any connection between the resignations, and an interview concerning condom use.[45]

Many Republicans speculated as to whether Martinez would be Vice President on the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, but she stated numerous times that she would not run.[46]

On May 15, 2012, as a result of the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire, Martinez declared the entire state of New Mexico to be in a drought. Martinez issued the formal drought declaration to help farmers, ranchers, and others secure federal drought funding. Martinez stated that in addition to "the work we’re doing at the state level to assist communities facing serious drought conditions, I’m hopeful this declaration will assist them in securing any available federal funding as well."[47][48] Martinez stated that "As a result of this fire, small businesses are unquestionably feeling the impact." As a result, she encouraged them to apply for SBA loans.[49] On June 8, Martinez declared Catron County, New Mexico, to be in a state of emergency. The declaration made funds available for both state and local response to the fire, and for community needs.[50] At the 2012 Tribal-State Summit, Martinez discussed water rights, natural resources, education, and tribal economic development and infrastructure.[51] In the presence of Navajo President Ben Shelly, as well as several members of the Navajo Nation Council, Martinez announced that Central Consolidated School District will remain intact.[52]

On Friday March 29, Governor Martinez vetoed a raise in the state minimum raise, citing that the raise was higher than neighboring states.[53] The minimum wage in Albuquerque is already the amount proposed for the remainder of the state.[54]

As of May 2014, job losses in New Mexico had accelerated during the previous 12 months, making it just one of two states to lose jobs. For the 12 months ending in April 2014, the state reported a net loss of 4,400 jobs, according to the state's Department of Workforce Solutions. The state has been impacted by the reduction in spending and employment by the federal government. The sector lost 1,100 jobs during the period. New Mexico was 50th in job growth since Martinez took office.[55] Martinez has said that tax cuts enacted during her tenure make the state more competitive in attracting manufacturing jobs. The state was among the finalists for a new Tesla battery plant. She also says that infrastructure investments at the entry port of Santa Teresa will generate transportation and manufacturing jobs.[55]

Polling and opinion[edit]

Martinez has one of the highest approval ratings of current United States governors, according to a Public Opinion Strategies survey, conducted for Martinez's campaign.[56] Her approval ratings have not dropped below 60% in her tenure as governor.[57][58][59][60] In an April 2012 edition of the Washington Post, Martinez was named 8th most popular governor in the United States.[61]

As of May 2013, Martinez had an approval rating of 66%,[62][63] with more than 44% of New Mexico's Democrats stating they approve of her.[64]

A January 2014 poll conducted by Research and Polling Inc., an Albuquerque-based pollster, on behalf of Common Cause New Mexico pegged Martinez's approval rating at 55 percent.[65]

2014 gubernatorial election[edit]

On October 15, 2013, Martinez declared she would run for re-election. At the time of her announcement, she had already raised over $2.2 million in campaign contributions, nearly five times the amount of any of her challengers in the gubernatorial Democratic Primary.[66]

Martinez faced no Republican primary opposition. On November 4, 2013, Gary King was the nominee chosen by voters in the Democratic primary to challenge Martinez, he received 35% in a five-way race. Exactly one year later, on November 4, 2014, Martinez defeated King to win re-election with 57% of the vote.

Political positions[edit]

In 1995, Martinez changed her membership from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.[67][68]

On August 29, 2012, Martinez gave a speech to the Republican National Convention, where she spoke right before vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and described her decision to switch parties. She told the story that she was taken to lunch by Republican friends who wanted her to switch parties. She stated that she was going just to be polite, but when she left the luncheon with her husband, she had changed her mind. She told the convention, "When we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, 'I'll be damned – we're Republicans.'"[69]

Martinez supports a balanced budget and lower government spending. She favors putting taxpayer money into a rainy day fund, and refunding taxpayers to attempt to stimulate growth.[70] Martinez is pro-life and is opposed to elective abortion.[71] Martinez is personally opposed to same-sex marriage, but she accepted the New Mexico Supreme Court's opinion in Griego v. Oliver, which legalized same-sex marriage in New Mexico. She has no record on civil unions.[72] Martinez opposes New Mexico's medical marijuana program, but has indicated that repealing the existing law is not a priority.[73] Martinez opposes portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual mandate, but does not support repeal of the law in its entirety.[74][75] She also supports Common Core education standards.[76]

In November 2015, Martinez said she opposes the Obama administration's plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. until clear plans for background-checking and relocating the refugees are developed.[77]

Election history[edit]

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes %
New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2014
Turnout: 503,185
Republican win
Majority: 73,913 (14.68%)
Susana Martinez Republican 288,549 57%
Gary King Democratic 214,636 43%
New Mexico gubernatorial primary election, 2014 Republican
Majority: 67,127 (100%)
Susana Martinez Republican unopposed
New Mexico gubernatorial election, 2010
Turnout: 602,827
Republican win (gain)
Majority: 40,605 (6%)
Susana Martinez Republican 321,219 53%
Diane Denish Democratic 280,614 46%
New Mexico gubernatorial primary election, 2010
Turnout: 122,269
Majority: 28,279 (23%)
Susana Martinez Republican 62,006 51%
Allen Weh Republican 33,727 28%
Doug Turner Republican 14,166 11%
Pete Domenici, Jr. Republican 8,630 7%
Janice Arnold–Jones Republican 3,740 3%
3rd Judicial District General Election, 2008 Republican hold
Majority: 45,098 (100%)
Susana Martinez Republican unopposed
3rd Judicial District General Election, 2004[dead link]
Turnout: 60,451
Republican hold
Majority: 9,225 (20%)
Susana Martinez Republican 34,838 60%
Gregory Valdez Democratic 25,613 40%
3rd Judicial District General Election, 2000[dead link]
Turnout: 29,714
Republican hold
Majority: 1972 (4%)
Susana Martinez Republican 15,843 52%
Kent E. Yalkut Democratic 13,871 48%
3rd Judicial District General Election, 1996[dead link]
Turnout: 41,839
Republican win (new seat)
Majority: 7,505 (18%)
Susana Martinez Republican 24,672 59%
Gregory Valdez Democratic 17,167 41%


  1. ^ Davis, Susan. Political Trivia: New Mexico Marks a Milestone,Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2010.
  2. ^ RGA announces 2016 Leadership
  3. ^ [1],Fox News Latino, November 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Mariela Rosario (November 3, 2010). "New Mexico's Susana Martinez Elected the First Latina Governor in the U.S". Latina. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ Noreen Malone (November 3, 2010). "Susana Martinez, First Latina Governor, Will Be Tough on Border Security". Slate. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Nation's first female Hispanic governor elected". MSNBC. November 2, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Rove, Karl (April 18, 2013). "The 2013 TIME 100: Susana Martinez". Time. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Heild, Colleen. "Tough As Nails", Albuquerque Journal, September 10, 2010.
  9. ^ Ramón Rentería. "'Bossy' El Paso girl Susana Martinez a born leader". El Paso Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Governor Susana Martinez". Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
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  13. ^ "New Mexico Elects State's First Woman Governor". Epoch Times. January 2, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ "New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Confirms that Grandparents Were Undocumented". Fox News Latino. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Johnson, Luke (November 14, 2011). "Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor, Releases Evidence On Her Grandparents' Immigration Status". The Huffington Post. 
  16. ^ Horwath, Justin. "Feds investigate Gov. Susana Martinez adviser Jay McCleskey, campaign funds". Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  17. ^ Peters, Joey. "Gov confirms FBI spoke to her, staff about investigations". Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
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  27. ^ "A game changer: DA Martinez is running for governor". Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Susana Martinez elected as District Attorney in 3rd Judicial District" (PDF). July 19, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Meet Governor Martinez". Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
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  31. ^ Miller, Sean J. Palin helps New Mexico Republican win primary, The Hill, June 1, 2010.
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  33. ^ a b "Susana Martinez record as governor" (PDF). Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Martinez bars all state agencies from hiring lobbyists" (PDF). Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Martinez signs executive order rescinding sanctuary status for illegal immigrants who commit crimes in New Mexico" (PDF). Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  36. ^ Court rules against Martinez in labor case
  37. ^ Gov., Indian Leaders To Hold Summit Next Week
  38. ^ "New era draws closer: Spaceport dedicates runway on New Mexico ranch". El Paso Times. October 23, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2011. two-thirds of the $212 million required to build the spaceport came from the state of New Mexico... The rest came from construction bonds backed by a tax approved by voters in Doña Ana and Sierra counties. 
  39. ^ "Martinez pushes private funds for spaceport". Cibola Beacon. February 14, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2011. Martinez said … "New Mexico's taxpayers have made a significant investment in the Spaceport project. It's time to see the project through to completion by bringing in private funding." 
  40. ^ "Governor Martinez Sells the State-Owned Luxury Jet for $2.51 Million". Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  41. ^ Gov. Martinez declares emergency on firework use
  42. ^ LANL Will Remove Radioactive Waste
  43. ^ Gov. Seeks Funds For Flood Help
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  48. ^ "Record-setting NM fire expected to burn for weeks". Kansas City Star. June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Fire-impacted small businesses urged to seek SBA loans". American City Business Journals. May 29, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  50. ^ "NM governor declares emergency in Catron County due to fire". Las Cruces Sun-News. June 8, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2012. 
  51. ^ "Gov. Susana Martinez applauds tribal-state summit". KFDA-TV. June 8, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
  52. ^ "State won't split CCSD". Farmington Daily Times. June 8, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012. 
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  54. ^ "" (PDF). City Clerk of Albuquerque. Retrieved April 22, 2013.  External link in |title= (help)
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  58. ^ Cohen, Micah (April 8, 2013). "Which Governors Are Most Vulnerable in 2014?". The New York Times. 
  59. ^ Susana Martinez has strong support, Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  60. ^ "GovBeat". The Washington Post. 
  61. ^ Blake, Aaron (April 12, 2012). "The nation's 10 most popular governors—and why". The Washington Post. 
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  63. ^ Martinez still popular, Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  64. ^ Approval ratings soar for Susana Martinez,, September 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  65. ^ "GovBeat". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  66. ^ "Susana Martinez raises $2 million for re-election", Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press, October 15, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  67. ^ Michael Haederle (January 1, 2011). "A rising GOP star in Santa Fe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  68. ^ How to grab them, Susana Martinez shows how Republicans might one day woo Latinos, The Economist, December 17, 2011.
  69. ^ Coleman, Michael. Martinez Earns Kudos for Convention Speech, Albuquerque Journal, August 31, 2012.
  70. ^ "Susana Martinez on Budget & Economy". Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  71. ^ "Susana Martinez on Abortion". Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  72. ^ "Governor Susana Martinez Unmoved On Same-Sex Marriage Despite Hairstylist Protest". The Huffington Post. February 27, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  73. ^ Milan Simonich (January 7, 2011). "New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to ignore marijuana law". El Paso Times. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  74. ^ Eric W. Dolan. "Gov. Martinez breaks with GOP: Parts of Obamacare 'good'". Raw Story. 
  75. ^ Milan Simonich. "NM Gov. Susana Martinez bucks Republican tide and moves to expand Medicaid as part of healthcare reform". Four Corners News-Daily Times. 
  76. ^ "50-State Look at How Common Core Playing Out in US". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 30, 2014. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration has been a strong advocate of the Common Core standards 
  77. ^ "Gov. Martinez opposes federal plan to accept more Syrian refugees". KOAT News. 

External links[edit]

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John Dendahl
Republican nominee for Governor of New Mexico
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