When Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker saved a neighbor from an apartment fire, his heroism went viral, spawning a Twitter hashtag (#corybookerstories) that became a vessel for all manner of tall tales. Booker was the new Chuck Norris - a semi-mythical figure of unmatched gallantry whose unbelievable exploits became the stuff of internet lore.
It was a boon for Booker's image, generating the kind of fawning coverage for which most politicians would do almost anything.
But after yesterday, the zeitgeist may need to make room for one more politician hero.
When Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., stopped at a Santa Fe Walgreens on Wednesday, she saw a 1 year old strapped into a car seat -- in an unlocked car with the engine running and no parents in sight.
The governor, who cares for a developmentally disabled sister and has one stepson but no biological children of her own, summoned her apparently formidable maternal instincts and leapt into action: her security detail called the police while the governor stepped into the Walgreens to look for the baby's parents, reports KRQE-TV.
Paged over the store intercom, the baby's father stepped forward to face a dressing-down from Martinez, who asked him why he left his child unattended in the parking lot.
The father explained that he did not want to wake the sleeping baby and that he was only stepping into Walgreens for a moment to buy baby wipes.
Martinez did not see anything remarkable in her response, explaining, "As soon as you see a baby in a car by themselves, you have got to, even if the car is unlocked or locked, you have to go into action right away because you don't know how long that baby has been in there."
The father was questioned by police but not charged with a crime. The incident was reported to New Mexico's Children, Youth, and Families Department, which could pursue further action.