ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Gov. Susana Martinez is reacting to the scathing profile that calls her ‘petty’ and ‘vindictive,’ and includes leaked audio recordings revealing a side of the governor few have heard. In the recordings, Martinez and her campaign staff make offensive comments and curse, prompting many to call for her to publicly apologize.
“This is a taped conversation that was made public that was never intended to be public,” Martinez told reporters Thursday.
The recordings, made when Martinez was first running for governor, are now making national headlines. They were published Wednesday by Mother Jones, a liberal magazine in a profile comparing Martinez to Sarah Palin.
Martinez is heard in the recording during debate preparation talking about the importance of a commission on the status of women and about teacher’s pay, a controversial topic while she’s been governor.
The governor said Thursday she stands behind the education system.
“They have my commitment, my complete commitment, because I know how important they are in the lives of children,” Martinez said.
Another recording caught then-deputy campaign manager Matt Kennicott speaking about former House speaker Ben Lujan.
“Somebody told me he’s absolutely eloquent in Spanish,” Kennicott is heard saying. “But his English is – he sounds like a f****** retard.”
That comment outraged many, including Lujan’s widow.
Kennicott, now a spokesperson for the Human Services Department, has defended the remark saying he was quoting someone else. Martinez is standing by him.
“I do have a disabled sister and I remember people making fun of her… I remember being very upset when people would make fun of her,” Martinez said. “No, I don’t think that it was appropriate to be said, but it was not a sentiment being communicated by Mr. Kennicott himself.”
Martinez said she didn’t know the private conversations were being recorded, but the topics and language used have outraged many. She didn’t apologize Thursday, though, for what she said in the past behind closed doors.
“No, it’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s certainly something I did,” Martinez said. “I’m not going to pretend I didn’t do it.”
The Governor’s camp thinks the audio recordings were sent to Mother Jones by the same people who hacked her email account.
So will the story and recordings impact the 2014 election?
UNM political science professor Tim Krebs says yes, if Democrats can make it important to average New Mexicans. However Krebs says the bigger impact could be on Martinez’s national profile.
“In national circles it’s the kind of thing that’s gonna have a longer shelf life, should that be something she pursues down the road,” Krebs said.
Martinez currently enjoys a significant fundraising edge over her Democratic challengers and has shown strength in job approval polls as well.