New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has canceled her speech at May’s N.C. Republican Party convention, prompting speculation that she’s avoiding the negative attention surrounding House Bill 2.
Martinez’s appearance was announced on March 19, and she was scheduled to headline a dinner on May 7 in Greensboro. Martinez serves as chairwoman of the Republicans Governors Association. N.C. Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said House Bill 2 wasn’t mentioned when the speech was canceled.
“My understanding is they just had a scheduling conflict that arose,” Woodhouse said. “This is a very busy governor with tremendous responsibility to the Republican Governors Association. ... She’ll be back to help Gov. McCrory.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Martinez “did not call off her appearance as a protest,” according to a spokesman. She plans to instead attend the anniversary celebration for a 4,000-vertical foot tramway that links the outskirts of Albuquerque with the Sandia Mountains.
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The Republican Governors Association issued a statement later Tuesday saying that Martinez still plans to campaign with McCrory.
“Gov. Martinez is not able to be in North Carolina this weekend but looks forward to campaigning with Gov. McCrory and sharing his successful record of driving the Carolina Comeback with N.C. voters at a later date soon,” spokesman Jon Thompson said.
Santa Fe is among the city and states that have restricted government employee travel to North Carolina in the wake of House Bill 2.
Martinez had faced criticism within her state for participating in the North Carolina GOP event.
“It is an offense to fair-minded New Mexicans that our governor would voluntarily participate in the GOP convention in North Carolina,” Equality New Mexico executive Amber Royster told the New Mexican.
The N.C. Democratic Party also tried to connect House Bill 2 with Martinez’s decision on Tuesday.
“Add the Republican Governor’s Association to the long list of groups distancing themselves from Pat McCrory and North Carolina,” executive director Kimberly Reynolds said in a news release. “Gov. Martinez’s decision to back out of her N.C. visit proves that businesses aren’t the only ones who don’t want to associate with discrimination or Gov. McCrory’s damaged brand. If he won’t work to repeal HB2 for the sake of our economy, maybe Gov. McCrory will act now that support for his flailing campaign is at stake.”
As of Tuesday, no speaker was listed for the NCGOP convention’s May 7 dinner. The other scheduled speakers at the convention are U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and a contributor to Fox News Channel.
“We’re working with some other people” to fill Martinez’s slot, Woodhouse said.