Donald Trump. Barring a contested convention or maneuvering from the party leadership to block him at the Republican National Convention, Trump remains the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.
This leaves one major question, who will Trump pick to be his running mate?
There has been some speculation that after Chris Christie endorsed Trump that he may be high on the list of choices. Media pundits remarked on how Christie was making a case for the VP slot when he stood behind Trump during the front-runner's press conference on Super Tuesday.
Yet the one thing that none of the talking heads in the media seem to notice -- or maybe they do and just like throwing out whatever speculation is most provocative at the time -- is that a Trump/Christie ticket doesn't make sense politically. It would be smarter for Trump to pick South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley or U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, but the battle scars from a vitriolic primary contest will likely be too fresh to extend the proverbial olive branch to either possibility -- especially if Rubio endorses Cruz.
There is another choice that few people are talking about that can build on the foundation that Trump has already laid with his campaign and possibly unify the Republican Party and bring in new voters: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.
Looking at modern U.S. history, sociopolitical diversity has been a key factor in VP selection. John McCain, a senior Arizona U.S. senator with more traditional Republican views, picked Sarah Palin, a young female governor from Alaska who became a darling with the emerging tea party movement. Barack Obama, a young star in the Democratic Party running on a more idealistic platform, picked Joe Biden, a grounded veteran in the party with firm roots in the establishment.
Those choices made sense politically. The obvious goal is to broaden the appeal of the ticket. From this standpoint, a New York business mogul and an unpopular New Jersey governor doesn't make sense. How is that ticket going to win over any more voters than Trump already has?
This is why Susana Martinez is one of the most logical choices for a Trump presidential ticket. A businessman from the Northeast and a popular Latina governor from the Southwest is exactly the type of sociopolitical diversity a presidential ticket needs.
Susana Martinez speaks Spanish, is not only the first female governor of New Mexico (elected in 2010), but she is the first Hispanic female to be elected governor anywhere in the United States. In 2013, TIME magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and she was chosen by fellow Republican governors to chair the Republican Governors Association.
The 2016 primary may leave the Republican Party broken -- perhaps irreparably for the current election cycle. Trump will need someone who has broad appeal, respect within the party establishment, and can counter some of the media's accusations that he is racist and sexist.Trump's opponent in the general election -- which as it stands will likely be Hillary Clinton -- will focus on the blustering rhetoric he has used since the launch of his campaign to talk about issues like immigration. To counter this, Trump needs someone who has daily experience with the realities of these issues.
In early March, the Albuquerque Journal reported on a ranch hand taken hostage by drug runners from Mexico, an incident that sparked outrage from local ranchers at the lack of Border Patrol presence in the area. This gives Trump an opening -- an opportunity to add legitimacy to his focus on the need for more border security.
He can move past the hyperbole that appeals to partisan voters in the primary and focus on real people who are affected by these issues every day. Governor Martinez can speak to the legitimate concerns of regions along the border that are difficult to address with the current limited resources Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement face.
Trump still needs approximately half of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination and avoid a brokered convention -- that is, of course, so long as party officials do not play with the rules to try to block him from headlining the presidential ticket.
If Trump is able to withstand these challenges, expect him to pick Governor Susana Martinez to be his running mate.