Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small visits Mayfield High School on Election Day

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - During an afternoon lull at the polls at Mayfield High School, one of its graduates paid a brief visit. 

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, the freshman Democrat representing New Mexico's 2nd congressional district, stopped at her alma mater on Election Day Tuesday, which was actually the final day of voting in a process that saw most New Mexicans vote early or by absentee ballot

Torres Small is running for a second term in one of the more suspenseful federal contests in the U.S., which polls show at a statistical tie even after more than $30 million has been spent, most of it by outside groups. 

Torres Small was the first woman to win the district, and only the second Democrat.

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Democrat Harry Teague represented the district from 2009 to 2011. Previously, Democrat Harold Runnels had represented southern New Mexico during the time when the state had just two congressional districts.

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Runnels died prior to the 1980 election and was succeeded by Republican Joe Skeen, who served 11 terms from 1981 to 2003, followed by Republican Steve Pearce, who served seven non-consecutive terms, leaving office in 2018 to run for governor. 

Despite the visibility of their race, Herrell, an Alamogordo resident, had no events announced; and Torres Small's appearance at the high school was brief. She spoke to reporters in English and Spanish while wearing a mask and said she would make a statement via video conference Tuesday night.

Torres Small's narrow 2018 victory against Herrell was decided by a few thousand absentee ballots in her home county. On the last day of their rematch, Torres Small mainly talked about the importance of voters turning out on Election Day if they had not completed their ballot, and making sure that every voter in line when polls close gets to vote.

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"That's part of our representative democracy," she said, adding: "Until 7 p.m. tonight the job is to make sure that people get out and vote, that people are making their voices heard. And then we have to make sure that the results are tabulated."

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.