Though there are other races playing out locally and state wide in New Mexico, anyone not living at the base of an arroyo knows the only race that seems to be gaining media attention is the gubernatorial race between Susana Martinez and Diane Denish. The reason? Bill Richardson, the current Democratic governor of New Mexico is term limited and cannot run again. Not only that, but having seen corruption allegations raised against Richardson, and an angry movement against the party in power, fingers have been pointed at everyone for everything.
So why should you, or anyone else, care about the New Mexican gubernatorial race? There are two major reasons, and both mean important things in American politics and locally for New Mexico’s gubernatorial race.
Two Women Running for the Same Office
Not only are Diane Denish and Susana Martinez, two women, running against one another as political rivals, an already rare occurrence in American politics, but Diane Denish and Susana Martinez are the only two candidates!
Only two other times in American history has a gubernatorial race landed one woman against one woman with no male contenders (source). Gubernatorial races in Hawaii and Nebraska in 2002 and 1986 respectively left voters with only female leadership choices.
I would love to say this was sign that Americans have finally given up on gender bias. Having two of the only three gubernatorial races with only female contenders suggests, at least to us hopefuls, that this may be true. However, the fact still remains woman and non-white minority groups are still far underrepresented in government in the U.S.
Tea Party Influence
Every time a fringe element of the Republican or Democratic party attempts to disrupt elections either through campaign ads or by running their own strong candidates under another party title, a brouhaha boils up over that group’s influence on election races. This election is no different.
Though neither Denish nor Martinez are Tea Party members (not a real party, just a group of activists leaning to the right of more moderate Republicans), the Tea Party Movement does remain influential. Or does it?
The Tea Party Movement has raised serious concerns over government spending, taxation, and general lack of connection with America at large and this can be seen in New Mexico’s gubernatorial race
Bill Richardson, to which Denish is his Lieutenant Governor, was accused of corruption but later cleared (source). Ads have accused Martinez of corruption charges as well (source). New Mexico is also, like other states, fighting program cuts and tax increases due to the economic slowdown and these factors have not gone unnoticed by voters. Current polls have Martinez ahead of Denish (source).
Whether or not you agree with the movement, it is easy to see that Tea Party rallies would not garner so much attention, or be so large, were it not for a large support base. Voters are distraught over the current economic situation and since the only outlet for their anger is their vote, we are likely to see a massive shift (like we did in 2008) from Democratic to Republican control in many areas.
The Tea Party Movement has no candidate in the New Mexico gubernatorial race. However, strong support for the Movement is likely to push Susana Martinez into the Governor’s office come November 2.