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Meet the first gentleman, Chuck Franco

Chuck Franco (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

The Santa Fe New Mexican takes a look today at the will-be first gentleman of New Mexico – Chuck Franco, Gov.-elect Susana Martinez’s husband.

Franco, who finishes his tenure as Doña Ana County’s undersheriff at the end of the year, has spent his career in law enforcement, working for the Las Cruces, NMSU and Doña Ana County Sheriff’s departments and as a game warden for the state’s Game and Fish Department.

He’s worked undercover, and that’s how Martinez met him, The New Mexican reports today in its profile:

“He was at the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s Office to present a case to Martinez, who was new to her job at the time. She was out of her office, so he sat down to wait. When she returned to her office and saw him there, she thought he was ‘a bad guy,’ as he tells it, and immediately called security.

“No wonder: Franco at the time was dressed like a gang member, with a hair net, a tattoo, earrings and what he calls a ‘grandpa T-shirt.’

“Martinez then was introduced to Agent Franco.

“He immediately took a liking to her, and remembers being impressed that she was so ‘on her toes.’ He laughs when he says that it wasn’t until he ‘cleaned up’ — he is prone to wear cowboy hats, boots and other western wear — that she took a liking to him.”

Franco’s career includes work with juveniles and gangs. He’s worked some of the most horrific cases in Las Cruces, including the bowling alley massacre that left four people dead in 1990.


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Franco’s role as the state’s first gentleman isn’t clear. He’s the first man to hold that title because Martinez is the state’s first female governor. As The New Mexican reports, “past gubernatorial spouses have played the part in various ways.”

“For example, first lady Barbara Richardson has worked on several issues, including domestic violence, during Gov. Bill Richardson’s tenure, but has been increasingly less noticeable, hardly being seen in public for months.

“Former first lady Alice King, in contrast, played a major role in her husband’s administrations, helping run some agencies, while the last Republican governor’s spouse, the late Dee Johnson, chose to focus on specific issues, such as a ban on smoking in the state Capitol.”

Read more from The New Mexican here.

Disclosure: A lot of years ago, Franco worked for my father at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. A prior version of this posting incorrectly said the bowling alley massacre was in 1980.

Martinez and Franco in Las Cruces on Election Day. (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

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5 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. I met Chuck Franco when I was a member of the Special Deputy Sheriff’s Commission. I find Chuck to be an outstanding individual with his interests in law enforcement to be of the highest caliber. It would be a shame if our newly elected Governor could not put Chuck’s expertise to work in her administration. However, no matter what administrative position Mr. Franco is placed in, our Governor will be darned if she does and darned if she doesn’t.

    I say: Governor, the heck with the naysayers, take advantage of Chuck’s expertise and he will bring credit to your administration and to the State of New Mexico. God bless.

  2. I have known Chuck for a few years now and have found like everyone who meets him that he is a quiet unassuming person with a strong protective mode, especially when it comes to his wife. He was an excellent under sheriff and will be a credit to his wife’s administration. I find that he is extremely supportive of Susana and feel he will be a credit to her in her new position. As First Gentleman. With his background in law enforcement, he will be in a position to help with investigations into problems within the government.
    Like everyone else, I can only wish him and Susana the best of luck.

  3. From years of personal experience dealing with him in Dona Ana County, I concur that Chuck Franco is a great guy. The bonus (soo sorry to the Republican Rabies Sufferers) by nature and culture, he’s a stealth Democrat at heart who cared about crime, community, and the little people who suffer from it’s effects.

    However, finding a way for him to use his extensive experience and talent while his wife is governor will be an ethical and legal challenge, as Diane Denish (who also had to deal with the issue of being in a family with two high profile careers) found in her tenure as Lt. Gov. I wish both of them well in their endeavors.

  4. A Governor’s Task Force on Gang Violence would be a great task for Chuck’s knowledge and experience. I concur with galrepub, Chuck is a great guy and will make a fine First Gentleman of New Mexico.

  5. Having met Chuck on several occasions, he is a low key, all round nice guy. There was a picture in the paper of Susana at the victory party Tuesday night, Chuck was right beside her, and that is his hand behind her, in protective mode. He is also a gentleman.

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