GOP’s New Class of Jokers: Meet the Rising Stars of the Dumbest Rebrand Ever
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
Photo Credit: Steve Terrell / Creative Commons
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
To answer the questions Andy Kroll raised in his Wednesday Mother Jones piece exposing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a terrible shithead — yes, Martinez probably is the next Sarah Palin. And yes, Martinez is also, as Kroll points out, probably the next Chris Christie. Which is to say that she is currently being floated as a great savior of the Republican Party, even though she is terrible.
But while Martinez and some of the “young guns” being scouted by the National Republican Congressional Committee may make for some more demographically representative campaign ads, the policies they have built their careers on are pretty indistinguishable from the sea of white men who have been driving the GOP into the ground. And it’s these policies that matter most to the politically engaged and highly motived voting blocs — unmarried women of color, in particular — who are shaping contentious elections and whom the GOP so desperately want on its side.
A Wednesday report from Politico more than bears this out. While the assault on reproductive rights has certainly galvanized women voters, as Stanley Greenberg and Erica Seifert note, the economy and the social safety net are energizing them, too:
With women Democratic leaders in the House and the U.S. Senate taking the lead, we began to examine the surprising impact of focusing like a laser on the economy and advancing an economic agenda for working women. This agenda is popular among all voters, but it is especially powerful among unmarried women. Hearing that agenda increased the support for a Democratic candidate on our surveys, but much more important, it greatly increased their likelihood of voting.
[An agenda focusing on equal pay, family leave, the minimum wage and the social safety net] increases unmarried women’s likelihood to vote and increases the chance that they will vote for Democrats. In our surveys, after hearing this agenda and also the best policies and messages from Republicans, the two-thirds of unmarried women who say they were almost certain to vote increases to 83 percent. That math could make the difference in November.
Let’s dispense with Christie here — partly because his whiteness and his maleness kind of disqualify him from the “rebrand” the GOP is going for and partly as wishful thinking that his presidential aspirations are legitimately dead — and look at where Martinez and some of the female “young guns” being touted as the bold new direction of the party stand on the issues that have alienated so many from the GOP.
Democrats in recent months have been hammering Republicans hard on the minimum wage and equal pay, and it’s an issue on which Martinez has a mixed record. In March, she vetoed a bill that would have raised her state’s minimum wage to a meager $8.50 an hour. Defending her veto, Martinez chided state Democrats for trying to raise the $7.50 minimum by a whole dollar instead of the 30 cent increase she was in favor of. “I was clear with lawmakers that I support an increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico — one that would put us on a level playing field with neighboring states,” she said at the time, noting that because Arizona pays its workers poverty wages, New Mexico should pay its workers poverty wages.
And while Martinez did sign an equal pay law passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, it hardly gets her out of the “war on women” weeds or makes her an ally to working women. In a measure that was both offensive to mothers and victims of sexual violence (and bizarrely embraced the Todd Akin/Paul Ryan “forcible rape” talking point at its most toxic), Martinez proposed a measure to require women in New Mexico to prove that their sexual assault qualified as “ forcible rape” if they wanted childcare assistance for a child born as a result of rape. (After an outcry from advocates in the state, Martinez withdrew the language.)