- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has joined a chorus of Republican leaders in criticizing Donald Trump for his claim that a federal judge is not qualified to preside over a case because of his Mexican heritage.

Martinez spokesman Chris Sanchez said Thursday that the governor strongly disagrees with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s claim that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel cannot preside fairly over a case involving Trump University because the judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“As the governor has expressed before, she is concerned by, and strongly disagrees with, some of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and positions, including his comments about a federal judge,” Sanchez said in an email.

At the same time, Sanchez reiterated that Martinez is willing to sit down with Trump and discuss issues that affect New Mexico.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has described as “racist” the remarks by Trump about Curiel, while South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham labeled them “un-American.”

Martinez, whose paternal grandparents came to the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1900s, is at the forefront of GOP efforts to help elect Republican governors in fall elections, as the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association.

Last year, Martinez took exception to Trump’s assertions that Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime and are rapists. She has declined to endorse Trump and skipped a rally in Albuquerque last month in which Trump rebuked the governor for not doing her job and suggested he could do better.

More recently Martinez has pushed to hear more from Trump about how he might protect federal support of New Mexico military bases and federal research laboratories.

Martinez has declined to say whether she voted for Trump in New Mexico’s presidential primary on Tuesday. She endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid less than a month before he suspended campaigning.

Trump earned just under 71 percent of the Republican primary vote in New Mexico, a slightly smaller portion than Mitt Romney in 2012.

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