SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez has “no plans” to speak at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, during which Donald Trump is expected to be formally nominated as the GOP’s presidential candidate.
Martinez, chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association, has remained noncommittal as to whether she will endorse Trump – or even vote for him – and did not attend the New York businessman’s campaign rally in Albuquerque last month.
A spokesman for the two-term governor said Martinez has not made an endorsement decision, though she will be attending the four-day convention, which starts July 18, as the leader of New Mexico’s delegation.
“Gov. Martinez will hold a series of meetings as the head of the RGA and looks forward to discussing reforms with governors across the country that can have a positive impact on New Mexico,” Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan said Wednesday. “She has no plans to speak at the convention.”
A number of other prominent national Republican officials have also said they either do not plan to attend the convention or are not interested in speaking at it, a change from previous election years in which speaking slots were highly coveted. The list of those either not going or not speaking includes South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, according to a Politico report.
The lineup of speakers has not been announced, but the Trump campaign is reportedly reaching out to businessmen and sports stars to attend the convention.
Both the Republican National Committee and the party’s nominee typically extend speaking invitations, and Martinez hasn’t asked or been asked for such a role in this year’s convention.
Four years ago, Martinez delivered a prime-time speech at the 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., that helped boost her national name recognition and pave the way for her to become chairwoman of the RGA, a deep-pocketed national group. The RGA’s chairman at the time of the 2012 convention, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, was also among that year’s speakers.
This year, many Republicans have voiced concern about the potential impact of having Trump on the ballot as the party’s presidential nominee, given his controversial comments – Martinez has criticized some of his immigration-related remarks – and high unpopularity levels in some recent polls. Presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also has strong negative ratings in many polls as well.
But New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said he believes most Republicans will fall in line behind Trump by the time of the national convention.
“I think everyone will be getting on board and doing the best we can for our nominee,” Tripp told the Journal in response to a question about the governor’s political dance with the presumptive GOP nominee.
He also said any move to change party rules to deny Trump the presidential nomination would cause “irreparable harm” and effectively disenfranchise voters, adding that he believes Trump is showing signs of being a credible general election candidate.
“He’s coming around,” Tripp said. “He’s learning to be a little more presidential or political-acting. I think he’s going to surprise us all.”
Both Martinez and Tripp are part of a 24-member delegation New Mexico is sending to the convention, a group that also includes Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. Martinez is the delegation’s chairwoman.
In addition to official delegates from New Mexico and other states, thousands of pro- and anti-Trump protesters are expected to descend on Cleveland for the convention, and city officials there have insisted they are prepared.
The Democratic National Convention will be held later in the month in Philadelphia.