New Mexico’s Gov. Martinez succeeds Haslam as RGA chair

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez was elected Thursday as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, succeeding Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Excerpt from an Albuquerque Journal report:

Martinez, who had been the RGA’s vice chairwoman, is the first woman and first Hispanic to lead the GOP governors group. She was recommended for the top position by the RGA’s executive committee and elected to the post Thursday by acclamation. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently dropped out of the Republican presidential race, was elected the group’s vice chairman.

No other Republican governors formally announced bids for the chairmanship.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the RGA’s outgoing chairman, lauded Martinez as one of the Republican Party’s best leaders.

“She has made the tough decisions necessary to move New Mexico forward and knows what it takes to win in a blue state, a skill that will be vital to ensuring our governors and candidates have the resources they need to win in 2016,” Haslam said in a statement.

Martinez’s election as RGA chairwoman also drew immediate criticism from the Democratic Governors Association, which referenced recent reports on a federal grand jury probe involving the governor’s top political adviser, Jay McCleskey.

“We welcome Governor Martinez into this new role, and look forward to discussing the FBI investigation everywhere she campaigns in 2016,” DGA communications director Jared Leopold said in a statement.

Martinez has expressed confidence that McCleskey did nothing wrong. Asked Wednesday whether other GOP governors had raised concerns regarding the federal investigation involving how money was raised and spent for her 2010 inaugural celebration, she said, “Not at all.”

Note: The RGA press release is HERE.