If there is one trait of Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, that irks lawmakers on the opposite side of the aisle, it is her reluctance to negotiate. Ms. Martinez handles the Legislature in much the same way that she made a name for herself as a county prosecutor — a tough-as-nails approach that helped carry her all the way to the state’s highest government post.
On one of the defining issues of her tenure, the fight to repeal the state’s law allowing illegal immigrants to get a driver’s license, her persistence — or intransigence, depending on whom you ask — may have paid off. She immediately embraced a bipartisan bill introduced on Feb. 13 that would do just that; though to hear her tell it, she also gave in by supporting an alternate driver’s license for young immigrants benefiting from deferred deportation.
Ms. Martinez’s spokesman called it a “very reasonable compromise.” It comes at a perfect time for the governor, who is about to travel the country as an envoy of the Republican Party, recruiting Latinos to run for office or, at the very least, to give the party a second chance. (Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada has also been drafted for the same role.)
Ms. Martinez, 53, is by many measures the ideal ambassador: accomplished, charming and not afraid to speak her mind. She took office in 2011 as the nation’s first Latina governor, a distinction that alone qualifies her as a role model. In New Mexico, though, she has faced steady and increasingly vociferous criticism over the disconnect between the tone of her pronouncements and the substance of her policies.