Lopez comment about governor causes stir

SANTA FE (KRQE) – In a crowded field of five Democrats looking to challenge Gov. Susana Martinez in the general election, Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, has been trying to stand out.

But one comment at a Democratic party convention in Rio Arriba County, has Lopez standing out in a different way than she may have wanted.

“I’m not afraid of that Latina on the fourth floor,” Lopez said to a gathered crowd according to the Rio Grande Sun.

The fourth floor appears to refer to the fourth floor of the Roundhouse, where Gov. Martinez’s office is.

The comment is similar to one made by Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, two years ago. Stapleton accused Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, of “carrying the Mexican’s water on the fourth floor.” Stapleton later apologized for that comment.

Republican lawmakers and the governor responded sharply to Lopez’s remark.

“It is sad and disappointing when politicians sink to shrill and disrespectful rhetoric,” said Enrique Knell, spokesperson for Gov. Martinez.

“It’s just a blatant lack of respect,” said Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque. “No other governor has been referred to as ‘the Latino’ or ‘the white man’ on the fourth floor … I would refer to Senator Lopez as Senator Lopez, not as ‘the Latina.’ ”

But Lopez doesn’t see what the big deal is.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s an issue,” Lopez tells News 13. “I am Latina, the governor is Latina and what this administration has been doing since she’s come into office is based on fear and intimidation. [The comment] wasn’t meant in a disrespectful way in any shape or form.”

Lopez and the administration have butted heads quite a bit. Lopez chairs the Senate Rules Committee which held a string of hearings on Expo New Mexico and the controversial Downs racino deal this week.

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