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Politics Notebook: Bush comment fuels Martinez-for-VP chatter

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush hinted this week that his pick for vice president – should he win the GOP nomination next year – would be a woman.

The comment, which Bush later appeared to partially back away from, prompted speculation that he could have Gov. Susana Martinez in mind for the job, despite Martinez’s repeated assertions she’s not interested in leaving the Governor’s Office before her term ends in 2018.

During a Tuesday town hall meeting in Iowa, Bush was asked about his view on the vice president’s role. He said in response, “That kind of relationship I think is really important. And should I be elected president, I would have my vice president – I think she will be a great partner.”

While Bush did not mention Martinez – or anyone else – by name, there are several links between him and New Mexico’s two-term governor.

Martinez’s public education chief, Hanna Skandera, previously held a top education policy post in Florida when Bush was governor of that state. In addition, Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz worked on and off for Martinez’s political operation during the past five years.

A member of a famous political family, Bush has struggled to find footing in recent polls, despite having significant financial backing.

Meanwhile, another Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, last month mentioned Martinez as a possible choice for a running mate.

KEY BACKER: Less than one week after confirming he will not seek re-election in 2016, state Rep. Conrad James of Albuquerque has thrown his support behind a potential successor.

Christina Hall, an Albuquerque chiropractor and former Miss New Mexico, announced this week that she will run for the House seat with the endorsement of James. Both are Republicans.

The House District 24 seat is seen as key to determining whether Republicans will keep control of the 70-member House in next year’s general election. The seat has bounced back and forth between GOP and Democratic hands in each of the last three elections.

Elizabeth Thomson, a Democrat who served in the Legislature for two years before being ousted by James in 2014, has already been campaigning to regain the Northeast Heights seat.

In an interview, Hall said job creation and public safety would likely be among her top priorities if elected. She also described her tenure as Miss New Mexico in 2006 and 2007 a “great opportunity” that helped pay for her schooling.

Other candidates could also emerge in the district, and Hall acknowledged, “I know it’s going to be a competitive race.”

Dan Boyd: dboyd@abqjournal.com.

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