The Associated Press
Updated: November 03, 2020 09:52 AM
Created: November 03, 2020 09:33 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — No matter who wins, New Mexico will send its first all-female U.S. House delegation to Congress.
Women are vying for all three seats, with the close race in the southern district attracting the most attention as Republicans try to recover what has traditionally been a GOP-leaning seat in the Democrat dominated state.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is seeking a second term in her race against Republican challenger Yvette Herrell that is a rematch of 2018 and will be decided by turnout.
New Republican registrations in the district outpaced Democrats by more than double the margin of victory in the previous contest. Herrell this time made an effort to broaden her campaign beyond the region’s more conservative strongholds.
Herrell has embraced President Donald Trump’s border wall strategy and has promoted her pro-petroleum philosophy in her bid to unseat Torres Small. She also tried to draw parallels between her opponent and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with ads focused on Torres Small’s voting record and ties to gun control activists flooding the airwaves during the campaign’s final days.
During her first term, Torres Small attempted to portray herself as a moderate who opposes her party’s line on certain issues, like banning fracking and limiting oil and gas development on federally owned land.
Torres Small last week distanced herself from comments made by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — who has waffled on oil and gas development, saying early on that he opposed fracking only to be corrected by his campaign and then later suggested he would ban new drilling permits on federal land.
The issue of energy development is important in New Mexico, which is home to part of one of the world’s richest oil and natural gas basins. Revenue from the industry underpins the state budget and supports tens of thousands of jobs.
“We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize a particular industry,” Torres Small tweeted, adding that she was ready to “stand up to” the Democratic Party.
While Torres Small maintained a fundraising edge throughout the race, Herrell received a surge in donations during the third quarter. She raised more than $1 million — one of the biggest fundraising quarters for a Republican congressional candidate in state history.
In recent weeks, Trump and other big-name Republicans campaigned virtually for Herrell.
Trump won the district by 10 points in 2016, and GOP voters are again energized during this presidential election cycle. Torres Small won the district in 2018 by a slim margin during a Democratic wave.
The election also marks another milestone because in all of the U.S. House races, at least one Latina or one Native American woman was on the ballot, making for some of the most diverse political battles in the U.S.
In northern New Mexico, Democratic attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican engineer Alexis Johnson are competing in an open race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján as he runs for U.S. Senate.
Whoever wins will become the first woman to hold the 3rd District seat since its creation in 1983. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1 in the district, which overlaps portions of the Navajo Nation and includes other Native American communities.
Leger Fernandez supports new investments in renewable energy and a transition toward a single-payer health care system. Johnson campaigned on an anti-abortion platform that emphasized limited government in the heavily Roman Catholic district.
In the district that includes Albuquerque, Democratic U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland, one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress, is seeking reelection against Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes.
Garcia Holmes, a former police detective, embraced Trump’s law-and-order agenda and blamed her opponent for failing to ensure internet access in remote areas.
Haaland, a former chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, campaigned as a vocal critic of the Trump administration on issues including environmental protection and economic justice.
(Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)