Gov. Susana Martinez is acutely aware of her place in history.
She was elected in 2010 as New Mexico’s first female governor and the nation’s first Hispanic female governor. At events, she’s often introduced as such, in no small part because she’s a Republican, and the party has recently struggled to appeal to women and Hispanic voters nationwide.
Martinez takes pride in those distinctions and the acclaim they've brought, but she has governed so far with sober recognition of their weight. In an interview with the Washington Examiner, she described “the responsibility of paving a path for other little girls.”
“If I do this job right and in an honorable way and I do the things I said I was going to do, ... little girls will be able to see someone that looks like me, that they can be that or more,” Martinez said. “It’s important to me to finish this job and do it right for those little girls.”
That caution about her job performance was a factor, Martinez said, in her decision not to be considered as a potential running mate to Mitt Romney last year.
But Martinez insists her decision-making has not been colored by past high-profile failures by women in politics — in particular another Republican female governor, Sarah Palin, who was selected as Sen. John McCain’s running mate during the 2008 presidential race.
“I think the bar should be high no matter who runs, and I don’t make distinctions between men or women,” Martinez said. “We have had failures or disappointments both in men and in women.”
Still, having a woman as either president or vice president is “way overdue,” Martinez said. She’d like to see it happen soon.
But, she added without pause, perhaps thinking of likely Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, it needn’t be right now.
“I don’t know that there needs to be one just for the sake of having one,” Martinez said. “I think there needs to be the best candidate put forward regardless of gender.”