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Herrell optimistic about 2nd District race

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Yvette Herrell addresses a crowd Jan. 31 in Roswell during the Republican Party of Chaves County’s pre-primary election. Herrell on Wednesday spoke about her campaign via Zoom to the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Two years after narrowly losing her bid to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, Republican Yvette Herrell said Wednesday that she will win the seat this time around come November.

“I feel good about the race right now, where we are,” Herrell said during a meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women held via Zoom.

A former state representative from Alamogordo, Herrell in June won a bruising three-way Republican primary for the chance for a rematch against her 2018 general election opponent, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat. She also will face Independent Steve Jones of Ruidoso.

Herrell said there is a palpable excitement among conservatives in the district for her candidacy, in what is now and was two years ago one of the most highly-watched U.S. House races in the nation.

Across the district, Herrell said volunteers with her own campaign and with the help of Trump Victory — a joint fundraising committee between President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee — have knocked on as many as 10,000 doors a week to promote the candidacy of Herrell and other Republicans.

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The race, she said, is getting ample attention from Trump and national conservatives, who are working collaboratively to win New Mexico for Republicans up and down the ballot.

“We’re keeping our finger on the pulse as to what is going on in the nation, what’s going on with the votes, what’s going on in the state, so that we can meld the two together and to make sure we bring the right voice for the people of New Mexico to Washington, D.C,” she said.

Two years ago, Herrell’s loss in the open race for the 2nd Congressional District to Torres Small, by about 3,000 votes, led to Democrats holding all three of the state’s U.S. House seats and both of its U.S. Senate seats.

“And I tell you, there is not one conservative voice representing New Mexico in Washington, D.C. We have to fix that,” she said.

Despite the limitations put on campaigns and public gatherings, Herrell said her campaign is crisscrossing the district, reaching out and establishing contact with heads of local industries and voters, many still reeling from the economic fallout associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

People throughout the district, she said, are frustrated by the legislative stalemate in Congress and the public health orders issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, meant to contain the spread of the virus, something Herrell said is punishing small business owners.

“As we are driving around, we are seeing more and more places of business that may not reopen after this COVID,” Herrell said.

Echoing messages on both sides of the political divide about the stakes of the coming election, Herrell said that the direction of the country hangs in the balance.

“We are fighting for our families, our rights and our futures,” she said.

Herrell has consistently slammed Torres Small as voting too much in line with the Democratic House leadership. On Wednesday, Herrell did not let up, citing her vote to impeach President Trump last December.

Torres Small though has made her image as a moderate able to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle as a key part of her campaign.

In contrast to 2018, when Herrell did not take part in televised debates, she is now calling on Torres Small to take part in at least two televised debates and one radio debate.

“I think it is important that voters need to understand the difference, the contrasts between the two candidates in this particular race,” she said.

“We need to be having these conversations about these votes that Xochitl Torres Small has taken so that we can surely explain to people the stark differences between the character and the values that we share,” Herrell said.

Both candidates so far have agreed to partake in at least one debate, the date of which has not been set.

Herrell acknowledged Wednesday that despite a some cash coming in from the National Republican Congressional Committee to her campaign, Torres Small does hold a big fundraising lead.

Reports with the Federal Election Commission filed in July by both campaigns show that throughout the election cycle Torres Small has raised $4.6 million compared to Herrell’s $1.2 million.

Herrell though insists it is her campaign that has the edge when it comes to intensity and passion.

“They may have more money, but we’ve got God, a determination and a fire in our belly that we have not seen in this state in decades,” she said.

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

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