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Torres Small maintains fundraising edge

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, speaks to attendees at the Democratic Party of Chaves County’s Pre-Primary Convention Jan. 25 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Roswell. Her campaign brought in $2,442,488 during the third fundraising quarter, according to recent reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has continued to maintain her campaign cash advantage over Republican challenger Yvette Herrell as the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District enters its final stretch.

Yvette Herrell addresses a crowd Jan. 31 in Roswell during the Republican Party of Chaves County’s pre-primary election. During the third fundraising quarter Herrell, a former state representative from Alamogordo, raised $1,088,368, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. (Daily Record File Photo)

The campaign of Torres Small, a first-term congresswoman from Las Cruces, brought in $2,442,488 in total receipts during the third fundraising quarter, while Herrell, a former state representative from Alamogordo, raked in $1,088,368, according to recent reports filed by the campaigns with the Federal Election Commission.

Steve Jones, a businessman from Ruidoso mounting a write-in campaign for the seat, brought in $2,655.58 during that same time, all in the form of loans he made to his own campaign.

The reports documented the financial activity of the campaigns during the third fundraising quarter — between July 1 and Sept. 30. The filing deadline for those reports was Oct. 15.

Torres Small ended the period with $1,869,189 in cash on hand, compared to Herrell’s $514,096. Jones went into October with no cash left in his campaign account.

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Lonna Atkeson, director of the Center for Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico, said the latest numbers that show Torres Small retaining her edge in fundraising are significant.

“Normally the person that wins has the most money and wins the most votes. I would say it doesn’t always happen but in terms of money, the money record suggests that Xochitl Torres Small has the advantage going into the last two weeks of the campaign,” Atkinson said.

During the third fundraising quarter, Torres Small’s campaign outpaced Herrell’s in spending, pouring $4,494,116 into her re-election effort, compared to Herrell’s $953,366 and Jones’ $2,905, the reports state.

Overall, Torres Small has consistently led Herrell in fundraising. According to FEC reports, she has raised a total of $7,093,268.77 throughout the campaign, well ahead of Herrell’s $2,090,247, which included $25,000 in loans she made to her own campaign, according to reports.

Jones trailed both major party candidates, with $9,404 in loans from the candidate flowing into his campaign war chest.

The election in the sprawling 2nd Congressional District, which spans from southern Bernalillo County down to the U.S. border with Mexico, and from the state’s border with Texas west to its border with Arizona, is one of the most closely watched contests in the nation. The Cook Political Report, a noted political forecaster, lists the race as a “toss up.”

Trump carried the heavily rural and oil-rich district by 10.5 points in 2016. Torres Small in 2018 narrowly edged out Herrell for the seat by less than 4,000 votes.

Come November, the race is also likely to be close. In early September, an Albuquerque Journal poll showed Torres Small leading Herrell 47 to 45%, well within the poll’s margin of error.

Outside political groups, such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Patriot Majority PAC have saturated television airwaves with ads to boost Torres Small, while conservative organizations such as the National Republican Campaign Committee and House Freedom Action have weighed in to help Herrell regain the seat for Republicans.

In her campaign and during her two years in Congress, Torres Small has sought to portray herself as a centrist, opposing some progressive initiatives such as a bill that would raise the hourly federal minimum wage to $15 and talk of a proposed fracking ban.

And Torres Small has highlighted her work across the aisle on issues such as border security and expanding access to healthcare in rural areas.

Herrell, in turn, has emphasized her stalwart support of President Donald Trump, highlighted the relationships in the district she has formed through her campaigning and years in the state Legislature, while attempting to tie Torres Small to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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

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