USA | Vem är republikanernas svar på Barack Obama? Finns det någon som skulle kunna locka unga, kvinnor och latinos i ett presidentval?
Ännu har partiet inte hittat någon som har samma ljuskraft som Obama när han dök upp på den politiska scenen. Ingen ser ens ut att kunna utmana Hillary Clinton om hon skulle bli demokraternas presidentkandidat.
Men ingen har riktigt lyckats entusiasmera gräsrötterna på samma sätt som Ronald Reagan. Och det är en ny Reagan man måste hitta om man ser till partiets opinionssiffror.
Dessutom står både Rubio och Cruz Tea Party-rörelsen nära. Det är svårt att se att detta kan vara en fördel om man skall vinna över mittenväljare och demokrater.
Med tanke på att Hillary Clinton ser ut att bli demokraternas presidentkandidat skulle republikanerna dessutom behöva en kvinna vid rodret.
Det är här Susana Martinez kommer in i bilden.
Som guvernör i New Mexico, och med mexikanska föräldrar, har hon potential att locka den allt mer betydelsefulla väljargruppen latinos.
Om det nu inte var för at hon är kontroversiell även inom det republikanska partiet. Hon och hennes närmaste medarbetare har t.o.m. kallats hämndlystna och småaktiga.
Hennes främste rådgivare, den politiska konsulten Jay McCleskey, har beskrivit som mannen som styr bakom kulisserna.
”They’ve got this Sherman’s march to the sea mentality, burning everything in sight until they get to the finish.” Allt enligt en donator inom Republican Party.
Exakt samma kritik riktades en gång mot Sarah Palin, en person som Martinez har liknats vid.
Andy Kroll skriver bl.a. om hennes konfrontativa stil i Mother Jones.
Since her election in 2010, she and her team have meticulously cultivated the image of a well-liked, bipartisan, warm-hearted governor by avoiding tough interviews and putting her in photo ops greeting veterans, reading to kids, or cutting ribbons. ”This administration is very disciplined,” says New Mexico pollster Brian Sanderoff.
In the general election, Martinez ran as the clean-government advocate who would do away with everything New Mexicans disliked about her predecessor. Once hugely popular, Bill Richardson had been dogged by grand jury investigations, corruption allegations, rumors of sexual misconduct, and growing disenchantment over his perennial presidential aspirations. Martinez’s campaign slogan (”Bold Change”) was straight out of the Obama playbook, and it was all the more cutting given that her Democratic opponent, Diane Denish, had spent eight years as Richardson’s lieutenant governor.
On policy, Martinez drew on borrowed ideas (her education plan largely came from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education) and flashy initiatives such as repealing a law allowing undocumented immigrants to get state driver’s licenses.
Martinez’s crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez’s DA office who had access to law enforcement databases.
The campaign emails and audio recordings also show how Martinez and her team strategized to maintain her straight-shooting image while avoiding actually being up-front with the public. Throughout the campaign, Martinez praised teachers and insisted she’d ”hold harmless” funding for public education. In private, Martinez implied teachers earned too much: ”During the campaign, we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education, but…they already don’t work, you know, two and a half months out of the year.” She and McCleskey acknowledged that cuts to education could well be necessary, so her aides plotted about how to respond if they were ever called out for it once elected: ”Put up a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain,” McCleskey suggested. ”And when you win, we say, ‘See, we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'”
Prominent Republicans around the state have blamed McCleskey for devising a political strategy that’s left the Martinez administration estranged from its natural allies. In a 2012 state Senate election, the governor endorsed a primary challenge to a Stetson-wearing rancher named Pat Woods, whom Martinez and McCleskey didn’t like; they bankrolled their candidate, Angie Spears, with money from SusanaPAC. In an unprecedented move, Martinez herself traveled to Woods’ district to campaign for his opponent. The plan backfired: Woods made the campaign about McCleskey, a ”slick…Albuquerque political consultant” meddling with local politics, and won easily.
The Woods-Spears race infuriated members of the New Mexico GOP. State Rep. Anna Crook, a Republican whose district overlaps with Woods’, wrote in the local newspaper that the ”nastiness, misinformation, innuendo, slanderous mailings, robocalls, and, in some cases, flat-out lies have created a toxic political environment the likes of which I have never seen before.”
Despite the growing discontent among New Mexico party leaders, Martinez enjoys approval ratings in the high 50s and low 60s—among the highest of any Republican governor. Her advisers seem keenly aware of how those numbers could help her achieve higher office, and appear determined to maintain them. Martinez’s aides have closely guarded her travel schedule and her media appearances, protecting her from tough and unflattering questions. Unlike such popular Republican governors as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich, Martinez has for more than three years largely avoided the Sunday talk shows; the lone national news figure to get substantial time with her is Fox’s Van Susteren. As she runs for reelection this fall with a full war chest and no strong contender among the Democrats challenging her, Martinez is well positioned to shape the debate and control her own image.
Yet Democrats and Republicans alike wonder if she has what it takes to succeed at the national level.
Tidskriftsomslag: Mother Jones, juni 2014.