Yvette Herrell wins Republican primary election for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District
Former New Mexico State Rep. Yvette Herrell was declared the winner of the 2020 Republican Primary Election and will challenge incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres Small for the seat representing New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
When the vote was called about 9:30 p.m, Herrell was leading with 46 percent of the vote, per unofficial results in Tuesday's election, with 292 of 619 precincts fully reporting, and 327 partially reported.
Roswell oil executive Claire Chase and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys were trailing with 32 and 23 percent of the vote, respectively.
Herrell said she planned to take back the district for the Republicans and unite the party to defeat Torres Small, who Herrell said was dishonest in characterizing herself as a "moderate" when the two met in the 2018 General Election.
Herrell initially claimed victory in that race, but was later defeated after thousands of uncounted absentee ballots were tallied in Torres Small's home county of Doña Ana.
"Tonight's strong vote of confidence shows that Republicans are united around our campaign and ready to take back our district," Herrell said in a statement. "Xochitl Torres Small deceived New Mexico voters by running as a moderate in 2018, but voters are on to her act now.
"Rep. Torres Small is wrong for our district and Republicans are united and fired up to flip the seat in November."
In her concession speech following the defeat, Chase said she and the GOP were moving past the primary race, which often became tense as her and her Herrell traded attack ads, and planned to support the nominee against Torres Small in November.
"Our real fight has always been defeating Xochitl Torres Small — and it’s now time for Republicans to come together, finish the fight, and turn New Mexico red for President Trump," Chase said.
"The future of our children and the next generation depends on sending a pro-Trump conservative who shares our values to Congress. So let’s go finish the fight."
Mathys said the loss was his last foray into politics, and he plans to get back to running his commercial loan business and taking care of his family.
"I'm going back to my business. I'm done. I'm finished," he said after the results were reported. "I need to take care of my family. I don't have time for public service anymore."
Herrell's connections and funding were what led to her victory, Mathys said, and he vowed to support the nominee in the General Election.
"She has solid relationships and she has money. Those things are hard to beat in an election," he said. "We're endorsing Yvette Herrell, and we hope she does well in the General Election."
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer said Herrell was the best candidate to uphold conservative values in challenging Torres Small in the General Election.
“Congratulations to Yvette Herrell on her win in tonight’s primary. Yvette has demonstrated her ability to deliver conservative solutions for New Mexico and I look forward to working with her in Congress," Emmer said. "Xochitl Torres Small broke her promise to put southern New Mexico ahead of partisan politics and will be rejected in November.”
Democrats were quick to criticize Herrell following her victory, accusing the GOP nominee of "divisive politics" compared with Torres Small's "deep connection" to voters in the 2nd District and success in her first term in Congress.
“This Republican primary reminded voters that no dirty trick is beneath Santa Fe-insider Yvette Herrell. Southern New Mexicans deserve better than Herrell’s Washington-style brand of corrupt and divisive politics," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos.
"Whether she is advocating for better rural health care or a safer border, Xochitl (Torres Small) is willing to work with anyone to get things done, and that record will earn her a second term in November.”
Torres Small, an attorney from Las Cruces won the seat in 2018, defeating Herrell to replace New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce, who ran for and lost in the 2018 gubernatorial race in New Mexico.
The district spans most of southern New Mexico, from Las Cruces and the western border to Arizona, to the Permian Basin region in the southeast corner of the state.
"Now more than ever, we need leaders committed to working together to get things accomplished," Torres Small said. "This is what New Mexicans do, and in Congress, this is what I've done."
The congresswoman touted her experience during her first two years in office, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, improving health care and supporting the economy.
"I've worked every day with Republicans, Independents, and Democrats to find community-driven solutions to our shared challenges —- defeating COVID-19 by improving access to healthcare, reopening and rebuilding our economy, and bridging the racial and societal divides that are tearing at the fabric of our country," Torres Small said.
"This is the type of leadership New Mexicans deserve and the type of representation I will continue to provide."
Following the June 2 primary, Herrell will be on the Republican ticket for the seat in the Nov. 3 General Election, alongside races for the the 1st Congressional District held by Democrat Deb Haaland, and the 3rd Congressional District vacated by Democrat Ben Ray Lujan in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
That seat was vacated by retiring Democrat Tom Udall.
A new president could also be decided as the incumbent Trump is challenged by Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden.
New Mexico primary election: Live results by county
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, email@example.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.
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