New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's Democrat opponent, Gary King, is not apologizing for remarking that she "does not have a Latino heart," saying he was using a quote from a labor activist to point out that he does not believe Martinez shares the values of the state's Hispanic families.
The Republican Governors Association is demanding an apology from King for his statements made over the weekend at a Democratic fundraiser, reports USA Today.
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At the event, King, who is the state's attorney general and the son of a former governor, is overheard on video obtained by The Weekly Standard
complaining about the governor.
King said he was referring to labor activist Dolores Huerta, 84, who co-founded the United Farm Workers, when he said "she said you can’t go there and just vote for somebody for governor because they have a Latino surname … She said you have to look at them and find out if they have a Latino heart. And we know that Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart."
Story continues below video.
King told Albuquerque CBS affiliate KRQE-TV
that he was simply quoting from Huerta's comments made at a Voices for Children conference earlier this year, but he believes that the statement "points out in an important way that Gov. Martinez does not share the same value system as most New Mexico Hispanic families do, such as increasing the wage and supporting our professional educators in the teaching of our children."
Martinez, who is the nation's first Hispanic female governor, told KRQE that she would not call King "a racist or anything," but still, "you cannot lump a group of people together simply because of the color of their skin."
According to national surveys, Martinez is leading King by an average of 5.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics,
and supporters told KRQE that King's statements were obviously made in an attempt to attract Hispanic voters.
Thirty-eight percent of the state's Hispanic voters chose Martinez in her 2010 race against Diane Denish. Gabe Sanchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, told KRQE that King is "thinking if I get 5 or 10 percent of that, it's a whole new race."
But he thinks King's remarks will backfire, like when Denish tried to paint Martinez as a "tejana,"
or a Texan with a Hispanic heritage, in 2010. Martinez was born in El Paso and lived there through high school, moving to New Mexico in 1986. Denish was portraying her as an outsider.
"A lot of people perceive that as race baiting, and I think this is also in that gray area where a lot of Latino voters might say, 'wait a minute, I don’t feel comfortable with this,'" Sanchez told KRQE. "Making a statement like this implies that Latinos all think one way ideologically."
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