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US House GOP primary candidates vow to back nominee

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Despite an acrimonious contest often characterized by attacks against one another, all three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District say they will rally behind the winner of the party’s primary this coming Tuesday.

Oil executive Claire Chase of Roswell, former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo and Las Cruces business owner Chris Mathys each hope to be their party’s nominee to take on U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, in November.

Mathys said Saturday the party needs to go into the general election united.

“Bottom line is we have to send a conservative Republican to Washington D.C.,” Mathys said.

He referenced his own history of doing so following a 2018 loss in the Republican primary for a seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

“The first thing I did is I typed a letter, I sent it to every newspaper in the district endorsing Ben Hall as my opponent,” Mathys said. He added that he will do the same for Herrell or Chase if they win the primary.

Herrell, who was the party’s nominee in 2018 but lost the general election that year by about 3,000 votes, said she has signed a pledge put out by the Republican Party of New Mexico to support the winner of the June 2 primary.

“I signed the RPNM pledge from the fall saying that I would support the eventual nominee in the race. I intend to abide by that promise, and I hope my fellow Republicans do the same,” she said in an email from her campaign Thursday.

Chase, for her part, expressed confidence she will be the winner come Tuesday, but also vowed her support for the party’s eventual candidate.

“In the unlikely event that I lose, sure I will support the nominee,” Chase said. She added that she pledged early on to do so and intends to keep that promise.

Steve Pearce, chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico said he talked with all three of the candidates early on in the primary and each assured him they will unite behind the nominee.

“And so, we absolutely believe that we will be united coming out of this,” he said Thursday.

Chase and Herrell throughout the campaign have traded charges against each other of being insufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump.

In other cases, there have also been personal attacks leveled in the campaign.

The Associated Press in a May 5 story reported obtaining a text message in which Herrell and Roger Rael, a conservative cartoonist, were conversing about a meme about Chase’s first marriage. The same story said a retired U.S. Marine who had been deployed in Afghanistan with Chase’s first husband was approached by Herrell who he alleges spread a rumor that Chase was having an affair with her current husband while her first husband was deployed in Afghanistan.

Chase, at the time, called the allegations “despicable” and called on Herrell to drop out of the race.

A Herrell spokesperson when the story surfaced denied Herrell offered suggestions about the meme or spread a rumor. He admitted Herrell had texted Rael back, but that she only did so because he was texting her nonstop.

Herrell on Saturday again denied the accusations.

The Chase campaign has also alleged Democratic-leaning groups EMILY’s List and the Patriot Majority PAC have been spending money in the primary to help Herrell, who Chase’s campaign said Democrats want Herrell to win the primary because they view her as more beatable in the general election.

Herrell on Saturday denied that her campaign has received any money from either group. She did say though that Patriot Majority PAC has had advertisements attacking each of the three candidates. She added that she does not know where Patriot Majority PAC’s funding comes from, but her campaign has asked that the ads be taken down.

She added that she does not believe liberal PACs — or political action committees — should be involved in Republican primaries.

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

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