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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In a historic race where New Mexico will elect its first female governor, the outcome could hinge on voter discontent with a man not even on the ballot: Gov. Bill Richardson.
The governor's popularity has plunged amid corruption investigations as he nears the end of his second term, and his presence looms large in the race between Republican Susana Martinez and Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.
Martinez frequently mentions Richardson in campaign appearances, and her TV ads feature pictures of Denish alongside Richardson. Denish has attempted to distance herself from Richardson even though she's his lieutenant governor.
"We know what we have had the last eight years. We have to look at those eight years and make sure we don't have a third Bill Richardson-Diane Denish administration," Martinez told an Albuquerque crowd of more than 400 during the most recent debate.
Martinez will become the nation's first female Hispanic governor if elected, and she's giving the GOP strong hopes of victory by taking advantage of voter worries about the economy and weariness with the Richardson administration.
The New Mexico race is one of two nationwide, along with Oklahoma, where the GOP and Democratic nominees are women.
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