The Republican Governors Association is demanding that New Mexico Attorney General Gary King apologize to Gov. Susana Martinez after he was captured on video saying she “does not have a Latino heart.”
King, the Democratic challenger to Martinez in the gubernatorial race, has come under fire for his comments, which he made during a private fundraiser on Saturday and was later posted on YouTube. In the video, King is said to be quoting national labor activist Dolores Huerta who had spoken in New Mexico.
“And the last thing she said, and the last thing I’ll say is, you can’t go out there and just vote for somebody for governor, because they have a Latino surname,” King said at the fundraiser. “She said: ‘you have to look at them and find out if they have a Latino heart.’”
He then finished, “and we know that Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart.”
The Republican Governors Association said King should apologize.
"Gary King should consider the impact of his insensitive comments on the Hispanic community and immediately apologize. No matter how much his campaign is struggling, is it reprehensible that he would stoop so low to this kind of personal attack," the statement said.
Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, went even further – saying King not only owes Martinez an apology but all Hispanic in general.
“He’s assuming the Hispanics are a monolithic community committed to the big government agenda. To make that kind of a generalization is insulting. It’s treating Hispanics as a herd and not as thinking individuals,” Aguilar told Fox News Latino.
In later comments, King said he was quoting Huerta to prove that regardless of Martinez’s heritage, her political stances are not in line with New Mexico’s Hispanics.
“I think it points out in an important way that Governor Martinez does not share the same value system as most New Mexico Hispanic families do, such as increasing the minimum wage and supporting our professional educators in the teaching of our children,” King said in an email to the Albuquerque Journal.
King’s office did not immediately return phone calls from Fox News Latino seeking comment.
Martinez, who currently holds a comfortable, nine-point lead (50 to 41 percent) in the polls over King in her re-election bid, said she didn’t understand where King was coming from with his comments.
“I’m not sure what Gary King meant by what he said, so I’m not going to accuse him of racism,” Martinez said in a statement. “We certainly have different views on the issues, but I know what’s in my heart and I won’t question what’s in his.”
The polls show a divided Latino vote in the gubernatorial race. According to an Albuquerque Journal poll taken Aug 12 to August 14, King holds a 56 percent to 36 percent lead among New Mexico Hispanics.
While no exit polling was taken in New Mexico in 2010 when Martinez was first elected, a Latino Decisions poll taken the night before the election shows Martinez won 38 percent of the Latino vote.
Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.