Trump looms over election rematch in New Mexico oil country

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small will defend her New Mexico swing-district seat in Congress during a second televised debate Wednesday evening against Republican former state legislator Yvette Herrell.

Absentee and limited early voting have begun across the state as the 2nd Congressional District candidates prepared to appear on KOB-TV.

The race is a rematch from 2018, when Herrell declined to debate and lost by fewer than 4,000 votes in her push to seize the seat left open by seven-term Republican Rep. Steve Pearce as he ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Republican voter registrations have surged across the sprawling congressional district that borders Mexico, Texas and Arizona and where the economy has been hit hard by gyrating energy prices linked to the coronavirus pandemic and by a faltering tourism sector.

The 2nd Congressional District is home to a lucrative oil region but also has some of the most impoverished communities in the U.S. The region has the highest percentage of Hispanic voters in New Mexico – the state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents.

Torres Small voted in favor of impeaching Trump, who was favored in 2016 at the polls in the district. This month, she voted for a second time against Democratic House proposals for a new round of pandemic recovery aid.

Herrell has cast herself as a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump, saying in a September debate that she is “unashamedly pro-God, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-family.”

In Washington, Torres Small has secured a seat on the House Agriculture Committee as an advocate for the state farming sector that is heavily invested in pecan and chile crops, along with livestock ranching and dairy production.

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