In the few weeks since the primary election, I have been inspired by the response I have received traveling our great state. I engaged in the “Take Back New Mexico” tour, visiting voters in Albuquerque, Española, Las Vegas, Farmington, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Artesia, Roswell and Las Cruces.
In each of these stops, as well as in my travels over the course of the last year, one common refrain has reverberated: New Mexico needs bold change.
Voters are fed up with the waste, abuse, corruption, debt and explosion in government growth. They understand one very simple fact: By any and every estimate, New Mexico is worse off today compared to eight years ago.
Turning our state around requires leadership committed to changing the way business is done in Santa Fe. We need someone who has taken on corruption, someone who has executive experience and has met a budget, and someone who has held to account those who violate the public trust.
That’s my track record. That’s what I’ve accomplished in more than a decade as the Doña Ana County district attorney. And that record, coupled with my vision and plans for this state, is the basis for my candidacy.
For the last year, I have spoken boldly on issues such as energy, the economy, public safety, education and immigration. I have published editorials and argued these issues in debates in front of my fellow citizens.
And New Mexicans understand that I am someone who believes this government spends too much, runs afoul of the law too often and places the burden of its incompetence and recklessness on the shoulders of taxpayers and small businesses.
There are real differences between myself and Diane Denish.
Denish has been lieutenant governor for nearly eight years. On her watch, we have lost jobs, small businesses have left the state, government has grown 50 percent, graduation rates have suffered and corruption has run amok.
These aren’t subjective points. They are factual. This is what has occurred during her tenure as the No. 2 official in our state. It’s reality.
Now, Denish can certainly argue she isn’t responsible for the negative developments that took place during the Richardson/Denish administration, but frankly, it is an intellectually dishonest argument New Mexicans won’t buy. The “it’s not my fault” defense won’t work.
We simply can’t afford four more years of the same, tired, bankrupt approach to governing. If voters believe the current administration has been a success, they have a candidate in Denish, who is essentially an incumbent seeking re-election.
Making sure voters know the truth
But I believe this campaign will be about where each of us stands on the issues that matter to voters. My campaign reached out to Denish’s and inquired about putting aside the negative advertising for awhile so we could talk about jobs, education and corruption, but the response was no.
It is unfortunate that Denish refuses to dedicate herself to talking about what has happened for the last eight years and why that effectively defines what will happen in the next four. Instead, she chooses the path of smears and gross distortions because she knows that she cannot run and win on her own record.
I am proud of having served as an advocate for the most defenseless in my community, prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against women, children and senior citizens. I will not apologize for dedicating my professional career to taking on those who violate our laws and bringing them to justice.
So, in the absence of being able to defend her record, it is clear Denish has decided to try and distort mine. I will continue to speak to the important issues confronting our state and I will take my message of bold change to New Mexicans, but I will always set the record straight and make sure voters know the truth.
Voters will support bold change
The next five months will offer New Mexicans an opportunity to better understand what they can expect from each of the candidates. I will continue to identify instances where state government has failed us and what I would do to correct the problem and change the way business is done in the Roundhouse, and I suspect Denish will continue to make excuses for what has taken place over the last eight years and attempt to malign my tenure as district attorney.
But the voters in New Mexico will make the ultimate decision as to who is best equipped and prepared to make our state a better, stronger place once elected in November and inaugurated in January. I am confident this fall they will support an agenda of bold change that challenges the status quo and delivers real results.
Martinez is the Doña Ana County district attorney and Republican gubernatorial nominee.