The battle for the Republican Senate nomination in New Mexico is between two formidable contenders, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and former Rep. Heather Wilson. But the state's most prominent Republican, first-term Gov. Susana Martinez, isn't taking sides. In fact, she's actively working to put space between herself and Sanchez.
"I wish all of the candidates for the U.S. Senate well and do not intend to make an endorsement in the Republican primary at this time," Martinez said in a statement Tuesday, following the official announcement of Sanchez's campaign.
"To prevent this race from becoming a distraction, Lt. Gov. Sanchez will not be given responsibilities in my administration beyond the select few provided for in the state Constitution," said Martinez.
Martinez has a reason to stay neutral. Not only does Sanchez serve in her administration, but Wilson chaired Martinez's transition team. Many in state political circles suspect the relationship between Martinez and Sanchez isn't that great.
"It's known that that relationship is not warm," New Mexico politics blogger Joe Monahan said of Sanchez and Martinez. "She has given the state's number two no responsibilities," Monahan wrote on his blog. Monahan also said the relationship between Martinez and Wilson "would not heat up a room."
Martinez's "at this time" notably leaves the door open for a future endorsement.
"An endorsement would help Heather Wilson much more than it would John Sanchez," said Monahan. "Wilson is weak outside of the Albuquerque metropolitan area and the race is really a problem for her south of Albuquerque."