Does Gov. Susana Martinez Have a ‘Latino Heart?’ Political Controversy After Dem Candidate Quotes Dolores Huerta

Sep 12, 2014
4:45 PM

This happened earlier this week in New Mexico. It all started when the conservative site The Weekly Standard posted the following video of New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King and remarks he made about his opponent, Republican governor Susana Martinez.

The Standard’s headline said this, “NM Dem Says GOP Guv Martinez ‘Does Not Have a Latino Heart,'” and buried the actual context of the story in the second paragraph when it wrote the following:

King recalled the words of a previous speaker at the fundraiser, Hispanic labor activist Dolores Huerta. “She said you can’t go out there and just vote for somebody for governor because they have a Latino surname,” King says. “She said you have to look at them and find out if they have a Latino heart. And we know that Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart.”

As you can imagine, the story made the local press in New Mexico and national political blogs.

According to the local New Mexico story, Martinez, the only Latina governor in the United States, said this:


Governor Martinez took issue with that specifically in a phone interview with News 13.

“You cannot lump a group of people together simply because of the color of their skin,” Martinez said. “I don’t know what [King] meant by that so I’m not going to call him a racist or anything. I just know what’s in my heart.”

King’s campaign shared a statement by King after the video broke:

For 12 years as a legislator and for the past 8 years as Attorney General, I have represented New Mexicans from all walks of life. I have worked to help those who this governor has ignored.

When Martinez puts corporate tax cuts above the well-being of hard working New Mexicans, I have to say that she has acted without heart toward our community, our people, and against our best interests. The Martinez administration’s record shows that she is much more concerned with her own political fortunes instead of the uncertain future facing New Mexicans.

Our state is confronted by an abysmal economy and faltering education system that is failing to prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow. Under Martinez, New Mexico lags far behind our neighboring states in job creation and economic development, yet we lead in the appalling numbers of hungry children, adults living in poverty, and devastating job losses. Her policies have been draconian when it comes to tackling these issues and completely lacking in compassion for those who need the most help. But she has been steadfast in taking care of her out-of-state corporate contributors who have repaid her with bundles of campaign cash.

I stand by my friend Dolores Huerta and her words that Susana Martinez lacks the empathy or commitment to the values we share in New Mexico. This governor’s political machine is operating in high gear with its effort to squelch any sort of criticism of her inadequate and vindictive policies.

My vision for New Mexico is one of compassion toward our fellow citizens. We must help working families, assist small businesses, and foster good government that promotes everyone’s well being, as opposed to the Martinez approach of slashing and burning anyone who disagrees with her.

I will not be dissuaded by her attack dog tactics, or be deterred from my goals to help New Mexicans and save our state.

Huerta made those comments earlier in the year at a Voice for Children New Mexico event.

A statement by The Republican Governors Association is calling for King to apologize.

Governor Susana Martinez has been a strong leader and a tireless advocate for the Latino community and, as a principled and effective governor, has devoted herself to improving the lives of all New Mexicans by creating jobs, reducing taxes, and reforming education. Gary King should consider the impact of his insensitive comments on the Hispanic community and immediately apologize. No matter how much his campaign is struggling, is it reprehensible that he would stoop so low to this kind of personal attack.”

Currently, Martinez is leading King in all the latest polls by an average of seven points.