LatinaLista — Media commentators have been calling Mitt Romney the GOP presidential frontrunner and general consensus has him as the unofficial party nominee for president. So excited speculation is shifting to who will be the vice president.
So far, the popular choices, all of whom already serve in public office — and who the majority (with the exception of a couple) have vowed to fulfill their unfinished terms — have deflected suggestions that they will be Romney’s running mate.
One of those under speculation is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. As CNN’s Candy Crowley said, Martinez has “a trifecta of political assets: female, Hispanic and a swing state governor.”
Martinez issued the usual thanks, but no thanks — citing the customary “commitment to serving a full term as New Mexico’s chief executive and reaching her goals for the state before “jumping ship” — but with a twist:
Martinez told the Journal recently that her responsibility as guardian of her developmentally disabled sister, Lettie, in Las Cruces is one that she can’t take to Washington, D.C., regardless of who calls.
“The family has to be a consideration, and for me to take (my sister) to Washington would be to separate her from … the family that’s down there, and that would be devastating,” Martinez said. “I just couldn’t do it.”
…Staying in Las Cruces allows Martinez’s 54-year-old sister to remain near their father, Jake, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and lives nearby in El Paso, Martinez said. Despite the Alzheimer’s, Martinez has said, her father has continued to recognize her sister.
Some pundits have dismissed Martinez’s concern over her sister, along with, her pledge to finish out her term as enough reason to keep her from seeking the White House. In fact, some are citing her limited political experience as the better reason for her not to be selected.
Former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson hit on similar concerns about Martinez’s limited political experience, saying in an interview with the online news site Politico last week that selecting Martinez would be a “Palin-esque” mistake.
Though Martinez and Palin do have a few things in common — both members of the GOP, both governors of their respective states and both with no experience serving in Washington — that’s where the similarities end.
Unlike Ms. Palin, it’s a safe assumption that Martinez is better schooled in world geography, national policy issues and can name a few of the newspapers, magazines and news web sites that she reads. By virtue of her past law experience, it would be highly surprising to see Martinez reading any notes off the palm of her hand.
Yet, the most definitive difference is that Martinez is Latina and when it comes to family, for the woman who is the eldest daughter or the daughter in charge of taking care of the family, that responsibility, for the most part, trumps personal ambition.
Unlike Palin who clearly put her personal political ambitions before the best interests of her family and didn’t mind uprooting her brood to parade them across the country — shining a spotlight on her daughter’s unwed pregnancy, subjecting her youngest children to media attention and unfamiliar settings and letting days go by without seeing them — Martinez clearly knows that any run for national political office is a strain on the family dynamics.
Martinez is hardly the first Latina to put family needs first before her own. There’s hardly a Latina who hasn’t done it to some degree.
One day, Martinez may run for national political office but anyone who doubts her motives today just don’t understand how strongly Latinas feel about the commitment to our family responsibilities — nor the self-imposed guilt that we would carry if we put ourselves first. By far, that can be a heavier burden than running any country.