Governor Calls GOP Official’s Comment Offensive

TAMPA, Fla. – Gov. Susana Martinez told the Journal on Tuesday that Republican National Committeeman Pat Rogers made an “offensive” comment when he suggested that she “dishonored Col. Custer” by attending a summit with New Mexico tribal leaders.

But Martinez also said Rogers apologized and she forgave him.

“It was a poor attempt at humor, but he apologized and we need to move on,” Martinez said during a morning interview at the site of the Republican National Convention. “I’m sure it was offensive and he apologized.”

Rogers is the Republican national committeeman for New Mexico. His comments referring to controversial Indian fighter George Armstrong Custer, included in an email made public by an opposing political group, made national news this week and provided fodder for Democrats who allege the Republican Party is insensitive to minorities.

Rogers, an Albuquerque lawyer and longtime Republican Party activist, told the Journal last week his remarks were “a poor attempt at humor” and apologized to those who were offended. He declined to elaborate when asked about the remarks by a Journal reporter in Tampa this week, but said he was aware of negative national publicity they generated during the Republican National Convention.

While denouncing Rogers’ comments in the email, Martinez praised his service to the GOP.

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“He has done fabulous work for the Republican Party for decades,” she said.

Martinez pointed out that state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton of Albuquerque, a Democratic National Committeeperson-at large at the party’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week, also made ethnically insensitive comments late last year.

Stapleton, in a public exchange at the Capitol, referred to Martinez as “the Mexican” on the Capitol’s fourth floor in Santa Fe.

“She (Stapleton) apologized and we moved on,” Martinez said. “I didn’t ask for her resignation. People sometimes will say things that may be hurtful and aren’t the smartest thing to do, but she apologized and I moved on.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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