The Corner

Politics & Policy

Down New Mexico Way

Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico from 2011 to 2019 (Mark Wilson / Getty)

Reading about the Trump rally last night, I was taken down Memory Lane — not very far, just to the early 2010s. Trump was in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and he said, “It’s been quite a while since a Republican won this state. I think we’re going to do great here. We’re here because we really think we’re going to turn this state and make it a Republican state.”

That may be the right approach. Trump is staunchly Republican now. He is the Republican party. It was amusing in 2016 when he was the presidential nominee of the GOP — the party’s titular leader — that he still said “the Republicans” from time to time, as if he were apart from them. He took control very fast. A stunning, even an historic, achievement.

Anyway, I thought of Susana Martinez, the New Mexico Republican who scored a remarkable victory in the 2010 gubernatorial election. (She would be reelected four years later.) In a 2012 interview with me, she told me how she did it. She went to pockets of the state that had barely seen a Republican. She did not use the word “Republican” or “Democrat.” That would have been unwise in so Democratic a state. Neither did she use the word “liberal” or “conservative,” or “Left” or “Right.” She just talked to people about problems and ideas, and she saw heads nod.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat — in elections and in other departments of life — but Martinez’s is pretty good.

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