SANTA FE – Donald Trump will be met by fervent supporters and throngs of vocal protesters when he makes his first New Mexico campaign stop this evening in Albuquerque.
But Gov. Susana Martinez, the state’s two-term GOP governor, will not be in the audience to hear the outspoken New York businessman who has emerged as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Martinez, who has in the past criticized some of Trump’s immigration-related remarks and has been noncommittal as to whether she will support him, told reporters after a Monday news conference that she will not attend the event at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Asked why, the two-term GOP governor who is chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association said she was “really busy.”
“I’m the governor of New Mexico, and I’m really focused on what’s going on here in New Mexico,” Martinez said, referring specifically to her administration’s education and economic development efforts.
In addition, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry will also not be in the crowd, their staffers said Monday, due to already-scheduled trips.
Trump has drawn large crowds of enthusiastic supporters – and large protests – at campaign rallies around the nation in recent months, and the Albuquerque event is expected to be no different.
While in New Mexico, Trump will also attend a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by Kevin Daniels, the owner of a local funeral services company, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Meanwhile, Albuquerque police say they are hoping planned protests targeting Trump’s Albuquerque public campaign event don’t turn into “chaos.”
Police spokesman Tanner Tixier said Monday that the department is working with state and federal authorities to make sure all demonstrations remain peaceful, according to the Associated Press.
Within an hour of Trump’s announcement that he would be visiting Albuquerque, protesters started organizing and had 500 people RSVP via social media for a protest in Downtown Albuquerque.
The number of people saying they intend to gather to protest Trump’s “divisive hate speech and bigotry” climbed to more than 1,200, according to the “Trump in Albuquerque? Stop the Hate” Facebook page.
Organizers from a coalition of groups say the counter-Trump protest will begin at 4 p.m. at Second and Tijeras near the convention center – three hours before Trump’s speech is scheduled to begin. Organizers are saying the protest is family-friendly and will be peaceful, but other anti-Trump protests around the country have gotten rowdy.
Pat Davis, an Albuquerque city councilor who is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive political advocacy group holding its own anti-Trump rally, said Trump’s visit to New Mexico had elicited strong reactions, though he added, “There aren’t plans for anybody to get arrested.”
“It’s kind of like the circus is coming to town,” Davis said.
Trump has surprised political pundits and frequently clashed with members of the GOP establishment in his march to the Republican presidential nomination.
Though his name was rarely mentioned at the state Republican convention at Sandia Resort and Casino last weekend, Rosie Tripp, the state’s Republican National Committeewoman and wife of House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, urged fellow Republicans to support the party’s presumptive nominee.
“It’s essential for our chances in November that we coalesce around Donald Trump,” Tripp said during Saturday’s convention. “Politics is a team sport and we can’t win unless we rally around all of our candidates.”
On the other side of the political spectrum, New Mexico Democratic Party leaders gathered Monday afternoon to outline their opposition for Trump, with party Chairwoman Debra Haaland saying Trump’s policies and rhetoric are “extremely harmful not only to our state but to our country.”
She and other party leaders said the protest will be peaceful.
Trump’s campaign stop in Albuquerque won’t be the only high-profile political event taking place in New Mexico today. Former President Bill Clinton will be in Española this evening to stump for his wife, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton will then hold a Wednesday campaign event at a community center on Albuquerque’s West Side.
If you go
Details on today’s public campaign rallies in New Mexico:
7 p.m. today at the Albuquerque Convention Center; doors open at 4 p.m. You can register for tickets on Trump’s official campaign website. Paid parking will be available at the convention center, the Bank of America parking garage off Third Street near Lomas NW, the Bank of the West parking garage off Marquette NW, Gold Street garage, Acropolis garage off Third near Copper NW, Civic center underground and a city lot at Fourth and Marquette NW.
6:30 p.m. today at the Plaza de Española; doors open at 5:30 p.m. Clinton will also be at the Alamosa Community Center in Albuquerque at 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
Journal staff writers Maggie Shepard, Dan McKay and Jessica Dyer contributed to this report.