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Governor in Virginia to help GOP candidate

SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling to Virginia this week to campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie.

The two-term Republican governor is scheduled to join Gillespie on Thursday afternoon in Tysons, Va., for a roundtable discussion on business issues, according to Gillespie’s campaign website.

A Martinez spokesman on Tuesday confirmed the governor would be traveling to Virginia today, and said she would return to New Mexico on Thursday. He also said state taxpayers would not be paying the governor’s travel costs, but did not provide additional details.

Gillespie is locked in a tight contest with Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia, with Election Day set for Nov. 7.

The race has been described by some pundits as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first year in office, and Gillespie has launched campaign ads citing the threat of MS-13, a criminal gang with ties to Central America.

Martinez, who previously chaired the Republican Governors Association, has traveled out-of-state before to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidates, including trips to Wisconsin, Washington and New Jersey.

Gov. can’t testify: The two co-chairmen of a legislative subcommittee tasked with studying criminal justice issues have invited a certain former prosecutor to testify at a Friday hearing about the simmering debate over pretrial detention rules.

But Gov. Martinez, a prosecutor for 25 years before becoming governor in 2011, told the lawmakers in response she was unable to attend and instead would pass the invitation on to victims, family members, police officers and district attorneys.

“They all deserve to be heard and it is incredibly important that you listen to them,” Martinez wrote in a Tuesday letter.

The two co-chairs – Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque – sent the invitation to the governor earlier this week, saying they would welcome a “full discussion” on the subject of bail reform at this week’s meeting of the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee.

In two separate social media posts last week, Martinez called on the Legislature – in the upcoming 30-day session – to repeal and replace a constitutional amendment on bail that was overwhelmingly approved last year by voters statewide.

The governor has specifically criticized the way the amendment has been implemented by the judicial branch, arguing it’s allowed dangerous defendants to be released pending trial.

Dan Boyd: dboyd@abqjournal.com