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Torres Small backs Pelosi for House Speaker

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From the left, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall stands alongside Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat in the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District during a campaign stop at Stellar Coffee in November. Torres Small who was elected to the seat said in a statement this week that she will vote for current House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Alex Ross Photo)

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small said she supports the bid by current Democratic House Minority Leader to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats won control of the U.S. House in November’s midterm election when they picked up 40 House seats from the Republicans.

Torres Small — a Democrat who in the next Congress will represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which is comprised of southern New Mexico and includes Roswell — said in a statement she voted for Pelosi to be Speaker during a recent caucus meeting of House Democrats because of Pelosi’s commitment to rural health care.

“I voted for Nancy Pelosi because she has told me that she would stand up for rural health care,” her statement read.

“And as your congresswoman, I’m going to fight to hold Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership to that commitment,” she continued.

Democratic and Republican House members will vote to elect a new Speaker of the House Jan. 3 when the new Congress is sworn in.

Pelosi — a longtime member from California — served as Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011 when Democrats last controlled the House. She was the first woman in history to hold the position.

Torres Small, a water rights attorney from Las Cruces and former field representative to New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, eked out a victory against Republican State Rep. Yvette Herrell of Alamogordo in November in the heavily Republican district.

During her campaign, Torres Small did not say if she would support Pelosi, a longtime U.S. House member from California who was Speaker from 2007 to 2011 when Democrats last held the majority in the House.

“I am committed to making sure New Mexico has a voice in Washington D.C. and frankly right now, I don’t think it does and I don’t feel like leadership is listening to that in either party,” she said in an interview during a campaign stop in Roswell in August.

Torres Small also said at the time she would need to have a conversation about investing in rural communities with any candidate for Speaker in order to win her backing.

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District who will serve as House assistant Democratic leader in the coming Congress, as well as Rep-elect Deb Haaland of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District both said in separate statements Thursday that they also back Pelosi for Speaker.

Although no other Democrats are running to challenge Pelosi to lead the House, some newer members have said they want new leadership within their party ranks.

It was reported Wednesday Pelosi made a deal with Democrats to win the final votes needed to be elected Speaker.

The terms of the deal state that House Democrats will vote by Feb. 15 to change party rules and limit their top leaders to no more than four two-year terms, including time they have already spent in those posts.

Pelosi would then be ineligible to serve as Speaker after 2022.

She has said that she intends to honor the terms of the pact whether or not the new party rule changes are passed.

The Associated Press also contributed to this story. Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.