Monday, May 17, 2010
By Sean Olson
Journal Staff Writer
Sarah Palin gave her endorsement to Republican governor candidate Susana Martinez on Sunday in front of an energetic crowd of more than 1,000 at the Albuquerque Marriot.
"She is going to turn this state around and, New Mexico, you are blessed to have her," Palin said about Martinez.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal Former Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd during a rally to endorse Republican candidate for Governor Susana Martinez, at the Albuquerque Marriott on Sunday May 16, 2010. Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal Former Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin signs autographs after a rally to endorse GOP candidate for governor Susana Martinez. Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal Former Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (right) and GOP candidate for governor Susana Martinez hug during a rally held at the Albuquerque Marriott on Sunday May 16, 2010.
Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 running mate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, said she appreciated that there was a competitive field of candidates in the New Mexico GOP primary election, but said "you have a winner right here" in Martinez.
Martinez is seeking the Republican nomination along with former state GOP Chairman Allen Weh, public relations firm owner Doug Turner, lawyer Pete Domenici Jr. and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Albuquerque.
The sometimes controversial Palin drew a crowd of die-hard fans to the event on 24 hours' notice, many of whom stuck around after her short speech to get their Martinez campaign signs or copies of Palin's book, "Going Rogue," autographed. Speakers set up in the hotel's Grand Ballroom blared the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" as she entered.
Palin stuck mostly to the Martinez campaign talking points during her speech, but she did deliver some of the colloquialisms that have made her popular with tea party activists and some conservatives.
She told the crowd to not get too down about Democratic politics in the state or nationally.
"Never retreat, just reload," she said.
Palin spent Saturday in Arizona, stumping for incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer before traveling to New Mexico. She defended Brewer's approval of Arizona's controversial new immigration law. Palin has been endorsing female Republicans in several races around the country.
Democrats downplayed Palin's endorsement, painting her as a polarizing figure who only appeals to the most conservative of voters.
"In a desperate attempt to appeal to the extreme right-wing, Susana Martinez is telling mainstream New Mexicans that she doesn't want their votes," Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales said in a news release Saturday.
Palin said she understood that sometimes her endorsements were a "two-edged sword" that leads to more scrutiny from other candidates and the press.
Journal Pollster Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc. in Albuquerque, said the Palin endorsement would be good for Martinez in the primary election.
"Due to the notoriety of Sarah Palin, Susana Martinez is getting more free publicity over this event than anything that's happened in her campaign up to this point," Sanderoff said.
He said Palin's endorsement could be more polarizing in a New Mexico general election where Republicans only make up a third of the electorate.
Arnold-Jones also had a national figure come to New Mexico recently to offer an endorsement. Former New Jersey governor and former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman offered her endorsement in April during a trip through Albuquerque.