New Mexico District Attorney Susana Martinez has become the country’s first Hispanic woman to be nominated for governor by either Democrats or Republicans—and she triumphed in Tuesday’s GOP primary by taking a hard-right stance on immigration. During the contest, Martinez attacked her leading opponent, former state GOP chair Allen Weh, for being soft on the issue. Martinez seized upon Weh’s support for George W. Bush’s guest worker proposal for non-citizens as proof that he backed “amnesty.” Weh, who received Karl Rove’s backing in the race, dismissed the attack, saying that he opposed any pathway to legalization. But Martinez, who picked up Sarah Palin’s endorsement, continued to hammer away at Weh on immigration in television attack ads to bolster her hardline credentials.
Martinez’s right-wing views on immigration and other social issues mirror those of another ascendant Hispanic Republican and Tea Party favorite—Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio, who’s aired similar criticisms of “amnesty” and also supports Arizona’s harsh immigration law. Though most Latino voters strongly disagree with such views, the conservative base has rallied behind both candidates. Backers include a donor behind the “Swift Boat” campaign against Sen. John Kerry during his 2004 presidential run, who made a hefty contribution to Martinez.