Susana Martinez To Speak At Republican National Convention In Pivotal Time Slot

08/22/2012 12:33 pm ET | Updated Jul 28, 2014

Susana Martinez's inaugural term as governor of New Mexico has been marked by firsts -- when the former assistant district attorney took office in January 2011 she became the first female governor of the state, as well as the first Hispanic female governor in the U.S.

Now, Martinez will have another first, taking the stage before keynote speaker Gov. Chris Christie at the 2012 Republican National Convention. The critical time slot, second only to that of the keynote speaker has been consistently reserved for the party's up-and-coming talent -- Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2004.

The decisive scheduling move may be a ploy to capture the attention of undecided voters, particularly in the Latino demographic. Other high-profile Latinos are also on the schedule for next week's convention, including Senator Marco Rubio who was once thought to be a potential Mitt Romney pick. Although Romney favored Paul Ryan for his running mate over the Florida Senator, Rubio will introduce Romney, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, at the RNC.

U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno will speak at the Tampa convention, so Martinez may not only serve to appeal to Hispanic voters, but women as well.

While the GOP also chose Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first black female to hold the position, to speak at this year's convention, Martinez may be the perfect pick for the pivotal time slot because of her command of the Latino and female voting blocs -- two bases the GOP desperately needs.

New Mexico political analyst Brian Sanderoff said choosing Martinez for the slot was indeed a calculated move by the Republicans.

"They're showcasing Susana Martinez as a conservative governor who is both Hispanic and female," Sanderoff told The Albuquerque Journal.

Once considered a potential running mate for Romney, Martinez is the presumptive Republican nominee for a second term as governor of New Mexico. Though she has yet to announce her bid for re-election, the Texas-born Latina will likely run for her second term, telling reporters during a press conference earlier this month that she has "every interest in the world of staying in New Mexico and taking care of New Mexico business."

Despite her unwillingness to take her campaign to a national level -- just yet, anyway -- Martinez's tactics could be a boon for the Republican agenda. According to The El Paso Times, Martinez said she traveled the state during her bid for governor, pulling votes away from her Democratic competitor by targeting voters who identified with her on certain issues.

While the GOP will likely benefit by having Martinez take the stage before the RNC's keynote speaker, the party may also want to take a cue from the first-term governor's playbook.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Susana Martinez is the first Hispanic governor in the U.S.

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