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Chuck Franco will soon be a household name in New Mexico. As the husband of Gov.-elect Susana Martinez, he will become the state’s first-ever “first gentleman” when she takes office in January.
He’s been there every step of the way, from the long car rides between rallies to the huddles with his wife’s campaign managers, to the debates and the news conferences. If Martinez is around, that stocky southern New Mexico lawman with the big black cowboy hat is likely not far behind.
And yes, he plans to be standing right there when his wife gives her historic inauguration speech. Martinez is not only the first woman to be elected governor in New Mexico, but she’s also the nation’s first female Hispanic governor.
“We’re excited and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and go to work,” Franco told The Associated Press. “It’s broken and we want to fix it.”
Franco’s talking about New Mexico — from its bloated state government and reputation for corruption, to its stagnant economy and poor education rankings.
The incoming first couple have the backing of the majority of New Mexico voters. Unofficial returns from Tuesday night show Martinez, a Republican, earned nearly 54 percent of the vote to beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.
While Franco isn’t sure what his role will be as first gentleman — or “first dude,” as former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called him, he said he’s used to high-pressure situations. He has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement and is the undersheriff in Dona Ana County.
He also has been a big proponent of youth mentoring programs in Las Cruces, where he was born and raised.
What’s certain, he said, is that he’s ready to help New Mexico any way he can.
–The Associated Press