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Democrats make last pitch to voters

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From the left: Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, a candidate in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, talk at a campaign event Friday morning at Stellar Coffee Co. in Roswell. (Alex Ross Photo)

Democratic candidates in races for New Mexico governor, the U.S. Senate and House were in Roswell Friday, where they urged supporters to mobilize other voters ahead of next Tuesday’s elections.

“We need you to call more, walk more and get out the vote more,” Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic candidate for governor, said to a crowd at a rally at the campaign office of the Democratic Party of Chaves County.

Lujan Grisham faces Republican Steve Pearce in the race for governor.

Polls have shown Lujan Grisham ahead by varying margins throughout the race and she said turnout among early voters is encouraging. She said though that voters cannot afford to be complacent and the biggest danger is that people will become over confident.

Lujan Grisham described her campaign as a movement of change after eight years of a Republican as governor.

In an interview after the event, Lujan Grisham said she spent the last year reaching out to voters of all persuasions.

“We’re working to win the hearts and minds of every single voter,” she said.

Southeast New Mexico, long a region of strength for Republicans, has been challenging terrain for Democrats in statewide races, but Lujan Grisham said she feels she has more support than previous candidates.

“We’ve been working for two years to talk to folks and engage them in a vision that they helped design,” Lujan Grisham said. She added that irrespective of party, people often want to know that a candidate will value their opinions and work to improve New Mexico.

“We feel really good that we made that case,” she said.

In her remarks to the crowd, Lujan Grisham said as governor she would look to make more investments in early childhood education and to leverage federal medicaid funds for behavioral health in communities.

New Mexico has the chance to be a leader in alternative energy, especially in wind energy.

“If there ever was a state in the entire country that can get renewable energy right, to use it here and export it, and create jobs, it is ours,” she said.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich told the audience that this year’s election is not like others.

Heinrich is on the ballot this year as he seeks to fend off challenges from two opponents: Republican Mick Rich, a Republican, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Libertarian.

Midterm elections are typically a battle between two sets of policies, but this year is different.

He said that right now Democrats need to be elected to provide a check on President Donald Trump.

Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, the party’s candidate in the race for the New Mexico 2nd Congressional District, and Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, made a joint appearance in Roswell earlier in the day.

Torres Small, a water rights attorney from Las Cruces and former field representative for Udall, is locked in a tight race against Republican Yvette Herrell for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

The seat is now held by Pearce.

Torres Small, a first-time candidate, said that throughout her race she has met people who have registered to vote for the first time, and others who regularly vote who’ve made calls, knocked on doors and fund raised for her campaign.

“This is how we get involved this is how we created this moment,” she said.

Udall was also at the event. He said that when he was elected to the U.S. Senate that Torres Small was the first person he hired south of Albuquerque and that in her time working with him, she spent a great deal of time working with the diverse people and industries of southern New Mexico.

He added that despite southeast New Mexico’s reputation, a Democrat can win the 2nd Congressional District. Udall said in 2008 he won the district when he ran for U.S. Senate, something Torres Small is also in a position to do.

“A Democrat can do it, the right kind of Democrat, and she is the right kind of Democrat to do this,” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.