Denish Pushes Women's Issues in New Mexico

Denish Pushes Women's Issues in New Mexico

By Erin McPike - October 13, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Republican Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez compete to become New Mexico's first female governor, Denish is attempting to bring women's issues to the fore in the campaign.

"I think it points out a very clear choice," Denish said of the race. "My opponent has chosen to be on the side of what powerful men have done all these years, being on the powerful side of powerful corporations of the Republican Party, anti-choice."

Denish went on to plug pay equity for women as an issue she's fought for throughout her career and accused Martinez of falling short on the issue.

"She's never said one thing on pay equity and pay in the work place. I've chosen to stand up for women over time," she said.

Martinez strategist Danny Diaz called Denish's charges "ludicrous" and said she was a desperate candidate looking to maintain a stranglehold on power. He added that Martinez was named "woman of the year" by Heart magazine for her advocacy of children's issues.

And on Thursday, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, plans to announce its endorsement of Martinez. In a statement, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, "As a district attorney, Susana Martinez has worked to protect children and families while Diane Denish, an honorary board member of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), opposes commonsense parental notification laws which ensure that parents are notified if their underage daughter seeks an abortion."

The abortion rights group EMILY's List, which supports Democratic pro-choice women candidates, has taken a special interest in races this cycle in which former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed candidates and also races that feature women against women. Both conditions are in play in the New Mexico governor's race.

"I've been a proud EMILY's List member and supporter since 1992," Denish said. "I think it's a critically important message that they're delivering about ‘Do you want a woman who's going to fight for women's issues or not?'"

Denish added that she was not only the first woman to represent the state as lieutenant governor, but she was also the first woman chair of the state Democratic Party and the first woman to join the Board of Regents.

If elected as the first female governor, she said that while it sends a clear message to younger generations about the possibilities before them, it means the most to older generations who've waited for a woman chief executive for decades.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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