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Torres Small, Herrell meet in 1st debate in close House race

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and Republican challenger Yvette Herrell finally have gone head-to-head in a debate in southern New Mexico’s closely watched U.S. House race.

Torres Small stressed “bipartisanship” during the KOAT-TV/Albuquerque Journal-sponsored debate Sunday while Herrell tried to link the Democrat to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Herrell said she would be a “conservative voice” and pointed to her “Christian values.” Torres Small repeatedly highlighted her votes on oil and gas that bucked the Democratic Party.

The race is a rematch of the 2018 campaign where Torres Small won by less than 4,000 votes to flip the traditionally Republican-leaning district. However, Herrell avoided televised debates then and faced criticism for failing to campaign in Hispanic areas.

This time, Herrell is campaigning in the Hispanic-majority Doña Ana County and has challenged Torres Small to multiple debates.

State numbers show that new GOP voter registrations outpaced Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District by 10,000 — more than twice the margin of victory in 2018.

Herrell campaign manager Michael Horanburg said those numbers show there is “energy and momentum” with Republicans to recapture the seat.

The Torres Small campaign said the Las Cruces Democrat has worked with Republicans, Democrats, and President Donald Trump on various proposals.

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