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First Democrat enters race in 2nd Congressional District

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A Las Cruces city councilor has become the first Democrat to enter the race for the southern New Mexico congressional seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell.

Gabe Vasquez (Submitted Photo)

Reports on the Federal Election Commission’s website show that Gabe Vasquez filed to run Wednesday in the 2022 election for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

In a press release and video message announcing his candidacy, Vasquez, who is also a former aide to New Mexico Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, indicated economic justice will be a central theme of his campaign.

“Our economy is more successful when it is fair. That means New Mexicans need higher wages, we must ensure the mega-wealthy pay their fair share of taxes; and we must invest in social services, infrastructure and education,” he said.

In a brief interview with the Roswell Daily Record, Vasquez said climate change, renewable energy and voting rights would be among his other priorities if elected.

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Vasquez, 37, said for months he has contemplated a run in the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses the central and southern portions of the state and geographically is the fifth largest congressional district in the nation.

“I had been hearing from members of my community — not just in Las Cruces but really across the district — who had wanted a strong candidate to step up and challenge Yvette Herrell in the upcoming election,” he stated.

The son of Mexican immigrants, Vasquez was born in El Paso, Texas but spent much of his childhood in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, until the age of 9, when his mother obtained a work visa and they returned to the U.S.

Aside from his time on Henrich’s staff, Vasquez’s resume includes stints as a business editor of the Las Cruces Bulletin, executive director of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Cruces, vice president of public relations for a startup company, a communications director and policy analyst for a child welfare organization in Washington D.C., and a community outreach director for several conservation organizations, such as the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.

He was first elected to the Las Cruces City Council in 2017, where he represents the city’s third district. The press release states he also founded the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project and has mentored underserved youth and youth within the criminal justice system.

Vasquez said the district needs someone who will pay attention to its needs and accuses Herrell of working to increase divisions in the country.

Specifically he faults Herrell for banding with other Republicans to vote against certifying the electoral college votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania in last year’s presidential election.

“I think we have a very serious problem when folks like Yvette Herrell are going against the very constitutional right that people have to elect their leaders in this county,” he said.

A staunch loyalist to president Donald Trump and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and House Republican Study Committee, Herrell has already confirmed she is seeking another term.

Information filed in July with the Federal Election Commission showed Herrell with $698,833.32 in her campaign war chest.

The district, which includes the oil patch communities of southeast New Mexico as well as 180 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, has traditionally been a Republican stronghold within the state.

However, in recent cycles, it has been more competitive in races for the House.

In 2018, when the seat was open, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small eked out a 3,720 vote win over Herrell.

Last year in a rematch Herrell unseated Torres Small by 19,737 votes as outside groups poured large amounts of money into the race.

Vasquez said he is optimistic his message will resonate and ultimately propel him to victory.

“So that is why I think this race is winnable, because there are so many issues that bind us together and there are very little issues that separate us,” he said.

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 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

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