Home USA News A New Mexico congressman is looking to protect a GOP stronghold

A New Mexico congressman is looking to protect a GOP stronghold

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Yvette Herrell ran for a second term Tuesday on a conservative platform of tough border protection and unfettered support for the oil industry in a congressional district that stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico through desert oil fields and parts of Albuquerque.

Democratic candidate Gabe Vazquez campaigned to flip the Latino-majority district in support of fairer access to economic opportunity, a humanitarian approach to immigration and greater accountability for climate change in the major energy-producing region.

Vazquez, a former Las Cruces City Council member, also emphasized his Hispanic background and upbringing on the border in an immigrant working-class family.

A victory for Herrell in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District would preserve Republican positions in a state where Democrats have dominated federal and state elections.

Herrell was among three congressmen running for re-election as the New Mexico House delegation in newly redrawn districts that split the state’s politically conservative southeast corner, a major U.S. oil-producing area. Lawsuits are expected that could overturn the redistricting plan passed by the Democratic state legislature after the Nov. 8 election.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office, nearly 190,000 ballots had been cast statewide by early evening on Election Day, bringing total participation to more than 630,000 since early and absentee voting began. Registered Republicans voted slightly ahead of Democrats on Election Day.

Herrell, a former state legislator, real estate agent and Alamogordo resident, voted against certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory and campaigned in New Mexico with conservative colleagues in Congress and the Senate, including House Minority Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana. and Senator Ted Cruz from Texas.

The 2nd District still includes parts of the oil-rich Permian Basin, and Harrell has cast herself as a staunch defender of the oil and gas industry as the basis of energy independence from foreign imports and as a source of local government revenue.

She criticized the Biden administration for abandoning work on the Keystone XL pipeline and supporting Republican-backed legislation to prevent the administration from imposing a moratorium on new drilling permits on federal lands.

Harrell and Vazquez cast their opponents as extremists in the ads, which highlight Herrell’s denial that Biden was legitimately elected president and Vazquez’s social justice activism in since-deleted social media posts and television footage of the candidate appearing as masked street demonstrator.

Vazquez has voiced support for key Democratic initiatives in Washington on infrastructure spending to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, raise the U.S. minimum wage and enshrine abortion protections in federal law.

Harrell has expressed support for banning abortion with some exceptions and said she supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which allows state governments to determine access to abortion. New Mexico allows access to most abortion procedures.

In New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury has championed access to abortion, addressing climate change and her initial success in attracting federal infrastructure spending in a district that includes much of Albuquerque and rural areas all the way to Roswell.

Stansbury won a snap election in 2021 to replace Deb Haaland after she was appointed Home Secretary. First District challenger and former police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes has highlighted public safety concerns in her second bid for the seat after an unsuccessful 2020 campaign against Haaland and a 2018 loss for lieutenant governor.

Also seeking re-election, Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez has campaigned largely to bring accountability and federal relief efforts to this year’s massive wildfires, which have raged through more than 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) of rural area in northern New Mexico, killing hundreds of residents. houses and water supply systems.

The inferno in the 3rd Congressional District was attributed to U.S. Forest Service prescribed burns that were supposed to reduce flammable undergrowth but went out of control in extremely dry and windy conditions. The Forest Service is revising prescribed burning protocols, while the federal spending bill approved in September includes $2.5 billion in aid for New Mexico.

Republican candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson is an environmental engineer. She also ran for the district in 2020 as a Republican candidate and lost.

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