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Yvette Herrell takes New Mexico House seat in pickup for Republicans

Herrell defeated Xochitl Torres Small in one of this cycle’s hardest-fought House races.

Republican Yvette Herrell has defeated Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico.
Russell Contreras/AP

Republican challenger Yvette Herrell defeated Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to flip New Mexico’s Second Congressional District red.

Torres Small’s district represented one of the Republican Party’s best chances to pick up a House seat this cycle, and Herrell came through. Torres Small won the seat after prevailing over Herrell by a margin of fewer than 4,000 votes in 2018. President Donald Trump won the district by more than 10 points in 2016, however, and endorsed Herrell in October.

“I’m sitting in the Oval Office of the White House and there’s nothing more important than getting you to Washington because we need you badly,” the president said, shortly after he returned to the White House following his hospitalization for Covid-19, in a recording of a tele-rally posted by Yvette Herrell. “Yvette’s opponent, Xochitl Torres Small, is a total puppet for Nancy Pelosi. She’s a radical left puppet.”

Herrell, for her part, has been mostly in lockstep with Trump with regard to issues like the coronavirus response.

Torres Small did break from Joe Biden and Pelosi in some important ways. The contest for New Mexico’s Second Congressional District became one of the most expensive this cycle, with both parties pouring money into the race. Energy policy in this oil and gas-rich southern part of the state was a major issue. Torres Small distanced herself from comments Biden made during the final presidential debate about the need to transition away from fossil fuels.

Torres Small also touted her bipartisan bona fides, saying in a campaign ad that “I put politics aside and worked with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump to pass the coronavirus relief plan.”

In addition to touting her endorsement from Trump, Herrell hit Torres Small for supporting legislation beefing up background checks for gun purchases and for her support of Biden and his energy policies. In the end, it was enough for Republicans to pick up a seat in an election cycle where their chances of doing so were few and far between.