Republican Gov. Susana Martinez secured a second term last night, beating her Democratic challenger Gary King handily. Martinez emphasized bipartisanship during her acceptance speech at the Marriott in Albuquerque, which was packed with Republicans from around the state.
As Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela introduced Gov. Martinez late Tuesday night, he focused on her heart—perhaps a nod to opponent Gary King’s maligned comment about the governor’s not being Latino enough.
"She does have a heart for this state," Barela said. "She has a heart for our children. She has a heart for our state’s most vulnerable. She has a heart for all of the citizens of the state."
Martinez recognized the King family for their legacy of public service to New Mexico. She also gave shout-outs to Democratic mayors—in Gallup, Las Vegas and Taos—who supported her candidacy.
"Voters sent a message this election," Martinez said. "They didn’t vote all Republican or all Democrat. They voted for both. They have trusted us to work together, and they have asked us to not be Washington, D.C. Government still works in New Mexico, and we can still find common ground. And let’s keep it that way."
Martinez also tackled education, though the state’s policies have been heavily criticized for months by parents, students and teachers, who object to state-developed exams and teacher evaluations.
"We’re starting to turn the corner on education," she said. "New Mexico ranked No. 1 in the country in reference to the growth in graduation rates. No. 1 in the country! Our kids are doing better! We are beginning to close the achievement gap, and parents are engaging with their kids in ways that they’ve never done before. We must continue to measure reform against one question: Does it help our children learn?"
The days of relying on federal money are over, Martinez said and called for New Mexico to diversify its economy and create jobs—jobs that can keep people in the state after they graduate. She also touched on transparency and health care.
"We’re even tougher on corruption now," she said. "The playing field is level, and New Mexicans can have more confidence in their government and that it is working for them. And we’re helping those who need it most, expanding access to health care, ensuring we have a strong safety net, and all while working to lift people out of poverty. But we have more to do."
The Martinez administration’s changes to the state’s developmental disabilities waiver, food stamps program and behavioral health system have been under fire this year, and those socials services battles follow Martinez into her second term.