“With deep roots in this community, Xochitl Torres Small knows that tackling our biggest problems requires bringing New Mexicans of all backgrounds together around shared values and common sense solutions,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján. “As a water attorney and former member of Senator Tom Udall’s team, Xochitl understands the needs of the people in southern New Mexico and will be a fierce advocate for working families. Her candidacy puts this seat on the map, and represents the best opportunity to flip this seat in nearly a decade.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Rachel Irwin, DCCC Regional Press Secretary
Date: June 5, 2018
RE: The Case Against Yvette Herrell
The primary results in New Mexico’s open 2nd Congressional District set up a competitive race between water attorney and first-time candidate Xochitl Torres Small and state lawmaker and political insider Yvette Herrell.
Torres Small’s deep roots in the community, unique personal experience and strong campaign make her a formidable candidate in 2018. She outraised the Republican field last quarter and has the backing of local mayors, lawmakers and stakeholders who trust her to understand the issues and get results for southern New Mexico.
While Xochitl introduced her values and experience to voters, Republicans and their allies went to battle on the airwaves spending over half-a-million in their race to the right. In the pre-primary report, Torres Small had over four times the cash on hand, giving her a significant head start as we enter the general election, leaving Herrell broke and bruised heading into November.
In attack ads against Herrell, her primary opponent claims she’s a “Santa Fe Insider” with a record of voting “for $278 million in higher taxes,” voting to “weaken penalties for child killers,” and “pocketing half a million dollars in state contacts.” And the former Alamogordo Mayor wrote “Yvette Herrell is an Insider Who Can’t Be Trusted.”
That won’t sit well with southern New Mexico voters who feel left behind by Washington politicians and are ready for new leadership to fight for them.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Cook Political Report: “Democrats Are Rapidly Consolidating Behind Charismatic Las Cruces Water Rights Attorney Xochitl Torres Small, Who Has The Potential To Be A Star” [Cook Political Report, 3/16/18]
Inside Elections: “An Open Seat Gives Democrats An Opportunity With Attorney Xochitl Torres-Small, A Former Aide To Sen. Tom Udall” [Inside Elections, 5/16/18]
NM Political Report: “New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District Isn’t The Safe Territory It Used To Be For Republicans According To Election Handicappers” [NM Political Report, 3/20/18]
“The Journal Endorses Xochitl Torres Small In The 2nd Congressional District Democratic Primary” [Albuquerque Journal (Editorial Board), 5/21/18]
Las Cruces Sun News Editorial Board: “[Torres Small] Had The Opportunity To Learn About The Issues Facing Residents Of Southern New Mexico And Help Resolve Their Issues When Possible. Since Then, She Has Become An Attorney Specializing In Water Law, Another Issue Of Critical Importance To The State.” [Las Cruces Sun News (Editorial Board), 5/31/18]
“Records: New Mexico Lawmaker [Yvette Herrell] Didn’t Disclose State Contracts” [Associated Press, 4/06/18]
THE NEW MEXICO WAY VERSUS D.C.-STYLE POLITICS
Given the primary battle between Herrell and her opponent and their track records of politics as usual, it’s clear that Xochitl is the refreshing choice for voters feeling left behind by Washington.
Her experience and record is in strong contrast with political insider Herrell, who’s proven she’s too extreme to represent this rural district. In attack ads against Herrell, her primary opponent claims that Herrell is just another “Santa Fe insider” who “got busted pocketing half a million dollars in state contracts.” New Mexicans are tired of the same old politics and politicians who are in it for themselves and not those they represent.
Moreover, Herrell will have to contend with a deeply unpopular Republican agenda at the state and national level that has betrayed working families, especially those in rural communities. And she will have an uphill battle explaining her full-throated embrace of the Republican agenda that raises healthcare costs and gives tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
HEALTHCARE AT STAKE
From the very beginning of 2017, southern New Mexicans rallied as Washington Republicans voted to raise their healthcare costs, gut pre-existing condition protections and jeopardize health insurance for 29,700 in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. The Republicans’ AHCA would hit rural communities in southern New Mexico especially hard given so many already struggle to gain access to affordable healthcare.
The political liability of Washington Republicans’ agenda will cast a dark shadow on Herrell’s candidacy with the CBO predicting that healthcare premiums will go up 15 percent next year, thanks to Republicans’ repeated attacks on healthcare.
While Xochitl has been a fierce advocate for lowering costs and increasing access to care, Herrell is already on the record supporting Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare and raise costs, which will be top of mind for voters this fall.
A FIGHTER FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES
Xochitl’s story is New Mexico’s story. Raised in Las Cruces, she’s driven to give back to the community that gave so much to her. She worked her way through college and later earned her law degree at the University of New Mexico. She was chosen by Sen. Tom Udall to be the first staffer on the ground in southern New Mexico in 2008. This gave her on-the-ground experience working with ranchers, farmers, and conservationists to find locally-driven solutions to some of the region’s toughest problems.
It is Xochitl’s work for rural communities that make her a trusted voice on the issues impacting southern New Mexicans, especially when it comes to increasing access to healthcare, improving our education system, investing in infrastructure and protecting public lands. Her experience as a water attorney also gives her first-hand experience fighting for the natural resources that drive New Mexico’s way of life.
In her first TV ad of the campaign, “Water,” Torres Small made a splash with her work protecting the water rights of New Mexicans. Expect to see more of Xochitl’s on-the-ground experience and track record driving community solutions as she talks to voters across this expansive, rural district.
THE PATH TO VICTORY
The open seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce offers the best opportunity for Democrats to pick up this seat in nearly a decade. While Republicans battled it out in an ugly primary chasing each other to the right, Xochitl Torres Small has hit the ground running talking to voters across this massive, rural district on issues ranging from healthcare to education to jobs and the economy.
History shows that Democrats can win in Southern New Mexico. In 2008, both fmr. Rep. Harry Teague and Senator Tom Udall won this district. A decade later, we have another opportunity. With a large Hispanic population that makes up over 43% of the citizen voting age population, and Democratic enthusiasm that led to sweeping Democratic victories in the 2017 municipal elections, there is a real path to victory in the sprawling rural district.
The GOP has a serious enthusiasm problem. After a contentious primary battle, Herrell will be facing significant headwinds thanks to a suffering Republican party in the state and nationally. Term-limited Governor Susanna Martinez is one of the top 5 most unpopular Governors in the country, and Rep. Steve Pearce will need to defend his vote on AHCA and the GOP tax scam as he tries yet again to earn a statewide post.
Xochitl’s message is clearly resonating. She’s quickly earned the endorsements of local leaders, lawmakers and stakeholders, along with primary endorsements from the Albuquerque Journal and Las Cruces Sun News.
New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District has been moved by Inside Elections, CNN, and Cook Political Report in favor of Democrats and will be competitive through November. But, it’s Xochitl, her deep roots and experience that puts this seat in play. She’s worked with both Democrats and Republicans and has a track record of fighting for rural communities like her own in a year when voters are seeking a better direction.