The Associated Press
Created: April 30, 2020 10:06 AM
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Republican U.S. House candidates in a crucial race in southern New Mexico say they want to participate in televised and radio debates as they seek to convince GOP voters who is the most pro-President Donald Trump.
Oil executive Claire Chase last week challenged to her two GOP opponents to participate in a televised and radio debate ahead of the June 2 primary. “We stand at the ready to reach out to local television and radio stations to lock in these debates,” Chase campaign manager Mike Berg wrote in a letter to the other candidates. “We have already begun preliminary discussions and interest in this race is high.”
Las Cruces businessman and House candidate Chris Mathys accepted Chase’s challenge.
Former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell responded by asking for three television and three radio debates before the primary.
“Our campaign has already been in touch with the media and (has) found strong interest in hosting debates in this race. We believe there should be three TV debates in addition to three radio debates,” Herrell campaign manager Dakotah Parshall said. “The voters in New Mexico’s Second District deserve to hear directly from the candidates in this race, and it is our hope that outlets are able to organize debates despite the continued restrictions imposed by the (New Mexico) governor.”
Herrell faced criticism during her unsuccessful run against Democratic U.S Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for refusing to participate in any televised debates and for failing to campaign in Hispanic communities in a district where Latinos make up the majority of the population. She has since vowed not to repeat that mistake.
So far, there has been no televised debate among the Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Torres Small, a Las Cruces Democrat, for the traditionally Republican-leaning seat. However, the candidates have participated in several smaller forums.
The television and radio debate challenge comes after Herrell attacked Chase for skipping a virtual debate hosted by the Federated Republican Women of Lea County.
“I was surprised to see that Claire Chase failed to show up and debate today, hours after she suggested we have a debate,” Herrell said Friday.
Berg said Chase couldn’t make the debate because of a scheduling conflict and wants to focus on events that draw the most viewers.
The Lea County virtual debate garnered 21 views, according to YouTube.
“Only one candidate in this race has a history of ducking debates, and it sure isn’t Claire,” Berg said. “Yvette is trying to distract from the fact that Chris Mathys accepted our challenge to debate and she’s still running scared.”
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