POLITICS

Gov. Susana Martinez cruises to reelection victory in New Mexico

FILE - In this June 4, 2014 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez meets with supporters during a campaign stop at the San Juan County Republican Party Headquarters in Farmington N.M.  Democrat Gary King hopes to follow his fathers footsteps into the governorship of New Mexico but hes struggled to raise money and make headway against Republican Martinez, the nations only Latina governor. (AP Photo/The Daily Times, Jon Austria, File)

FILE - In this June 4, 2014 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez meets with supporters during a campaign stop at the San Juan County Republican Party Headquarters in Farmington N.M. Democrat Gary King hopes to follow his fathers footsteps into the governorship of New Mexico but hes struggled to raise money and make headway against Republican Martinez, the nations only Latina governor. (AP Photo/The Daily Times, Jon Austria, File)

With just over six percent of precincts reporting, it is apparent that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez - often mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate in 2016 - will win reelection, defeating Democrat Gary King.

Martinez, who ran a strong reelection campaign that won over many independent voters in a state that is 47 percent Hispanic, had 59 percent of the vote compared to her challenger's Gary King's 40 percent one hour after polls closed.

"She has run a fantastic race," Ruth Guerra, the Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic media told Fox News Latino. "Her win is a testament to her ability to appeal no only to conservatives but also independent voters and even Democrats in a state that is heavily Latino."

Susana Martinez, the nation’s first female Hispanic governor, proved that she is in that small circle of Republicans who can generate a strong level of Latino support.

Martinez outspent her Democratic opponent, Gary King, more than 6-to-1 on television ads and polls in the run-up to the election. Polls showed Martinez maintaining a comfortable lead in what's traditionally a Democratic-leaning state. 

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Martinez made history four years ago by becoming the nation's first female Hispanic governor and the first woman elected governor of New Mexico. She's considered a rising star in a party that's searching for ways nationally to appeal to Hispanic voters.

An Albuquerque Journal poll released weeks before the election showed two-fifths of likely Hispanic voters supporting the governor. That's strong for a Republican in a state in which Democrats traditionally win by margins of 2-to-1 or better in heavily Hispanic areas.

Martinez also had the backing of 28 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Independents, according to the poll conducted for the paper by Albuquerque-based Research and Polling.

The Martinez victory boosts the governor's national political standing, but Martinez maintains she's uninterested in national office or becoming a vice presidential running mate. She pledged to serve the full four years of a second term to fulfill campaign promises of improving schools and the economy.

The kind of appeal Martinez has been able to sustain among Latinos and voters who are not registered Republicans are qualities the GOP has indicated it would like in a presidential candidate in 2016.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran in 2012 against President Obama, got only 27 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 71 percent for Obama.

That led to talk among Republicans and political scientists about how President George W. Bush was able to get more than 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, given that about 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.

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