Most people outside of New Mexico probably didn't know who Susana Martinez is. You probably didn't know that she was a former prosecutor who defeated an incumbent district attorney. You likely didn't have any idea that she came from a border town in New Mexico. Most likely, you weren't aware that she was the first Latina governor of New Mexico. Sure, you watched Paul Ryan deliver a riveting speech to the Republican National Convention, but don't ignore the address she gave.
Here are some highlights of her address:
"We grew up on the border and truly lived paycheck to paycheck. My dad was a golden gloves boxer in the Marine Corps, then a deputy sheriff. My mom worked as an office assistant. One day, they decided to start a security guard business. I thought they were absolutely crazy-we literally had no savings, but they always believed in the American Dream. So, my dad worked to grow the business. My mom did the books at night. And at 18, I guarded the parking lot at the Catholic Church bingos. Now, my dad made sure I could take care of myself. I carried a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum -- that gun weighed more than I did!"
"Before I ran for District Attorney, two Republicans invited my husband and me to lunch. And I knew a party-switch was exactly what they wanted. So, I told Chuck, we'll be polite, enjoy a free lunch and then say goodbye. But we talked about issues-they never used the words Republican, or Democrat, conservative or liberal. We talked about many issues, like welfare - is it a way of life, or a hand-up? Talked about the size of government -- how much should it tax families and small businesses? And when we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, "I'll be damned, we're Republicans." This election should not be about political parties. Too many Americans are out of work, and our debt is out of control. This election needs to be about those issues. And it is the responsibility of both parties to offer up real solutions and have an honest debate."
Susana Martinez represents a strong promise for the future of the Republican Party. Four years ago, Republicans really had little to offer a diverse group of voters in America. John McCain seemed tired, and truly embodied an "old, white Republican Party" that fit the stereotypes Democrats like to paint us with. Worse, he represented an ideology stuck in the old ways of the Republican Party that focused on national security issues at a time when the Cold War was over, and the economic base of this country fell apart.
Republicans might not be as successful reaching out to minorities as George W. Bush was in 2004. However, they're thinking beyond this election. Midterm elections in two years will require better outreach to minorities, particularly Hispanics, should Mitt Romney win. Should Mitt Romney lose, four years from now will represent an open campaign for the White House. Hispanic voters will only grow in prominence, and burgeoning suburban black communities will increase their influence as well.
Don't dismiss Susana Martinez's influence on the Republican Party, in addition to women like Mia Love. Both are future leaders in our party. Take note of them now, so when they are representatives of the conservative movement, we know where they came from.