Garcia Confirmed As Higher Education Secretary

New Mexico – The Senate has confirmed New Mexico State University professor Jose Z. Garcia as secretary of the Higher Education Department.

He is the first of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's cabinet secretaries to win confirmation.

Garcia, a Democrat, has been a professor at NMSU since 1975, and served as the director of the NMSU Center for Latin American and Border Studies from 1991 to 2003.

The Senate approved Garcia's nomination Friday on a 34-2 vote. Democratic Sens. Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana and Cynthia Nava of Las Cruces voted against confirmation.

Sen. Garcia said in a statement the nominee "is not appropriately qualified and he is overly politicized."

Senate GOP Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales said the professor will bring a common sense approach to his education duties.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.