Of all the obstacles standing between the Republican Party and the White House, preventing heavily Latino, trending-blue Western states from settling comfortably into the Democratic column is high on the list. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval are two Republican politicians winning in precisely those kinds of places — and GOP officials who’ve been watching them say the party would be wise to pay attention.
The first-term governors have managed to strike the balance that party brass say is critical to the party’s future: staying true to the core message of smaller government and lower taxes without alienating Latinos and women on social issues. Though Martinez and Sandoval have been mentioned as potential national candidates, they have largely shunned the national spotlight, zeroing in on home-state issues and building political profiles distinct from the tarnished GOP brand.