Marco Rubio's Vice Presidential Candidate Frontrunner Could Create A Super Latino Ticket
Florida Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio has not said much about who he'd like to choose as his running mate, and that's no surprise. He's been investing most of his time fighting hard for delegates against Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who currently have strong leads over him. Much of his attention has been focused on winning his home state of Florida in Tuesday's primary, where polls show him well behind Trump. But the senator has expressed interest in one person in particular as a possible running mate. Who might Rubio pick as his vice president?
Reuters reports that in a November event at the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Rubio was posed this very question. He named Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico, as a potential choice after noting several bits of criteria his pick would have to meet. Rubio said that his running mate "has to be someone who is ready to be president" if need be, someone who shares his principles, and "someone you can work with." In January, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed Martinez as their preferred vice presidential candidate on the Republican side.
Martinez could be a smart choice for Rubio for a few reasons. First, one of the most prominent criticisms of Rubio from the right is his history on immigration. He was a member of the "Gang of Eight," whose immigration reform proposal in the 2013 Senate is seen by many of today's conservatives as far too liberal for offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Martinez has a reputation for being tough on immigration. She spearheaded the change in legislation that made it impossible for undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license in New Mexico. In 2011, she signed an executive order that allowed police to ask about the immigration status of people who are arrested, taking away their "sanctuary status."
Policy aside, Martinez would add some appeal to the Rubio ticket as far as identity politics are concerned. Elected in 2010, she was the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S. Having two Hispanic candidates on one ticket could mobilize Hispanic voters, and having a woman as his running mate could bring in female voters from the center and center-left as well.
Before being elected governor of New Mexico, Martinez led a lengthy career as both an assistant district attorney and district attorney. While her experience and her identity could make her a strategic choice for Rubio, it's worth noting that she may bring along some controversy. The New Mexican reported that her political adviser, Jay McCleskey, is under investigation by the FBI for allegations that some of her campaign funds went to companies in which McCleskey has financial interests. Martinez wrote the investigation off as dirty politicking.
For now, Rubio needs to do his best to prove to Republican and Republican-leaning voters that he deserves their presidential nomination more than Cruz or Trump. But if he gets to the point of selecting a running mate, we shouldn't be surprised to hear Martinez's name again.