- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 16, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Democrat Xochitl Torres Small raised more than three times as much money from July through September as Republican Yvette Herrell in a closely watched U.S. House race in southern New Mexico, according to newly released federal numbers.

Federal Election Commission filings released this week show attorney Torres Small pulled in around $1.9 million while Herrell raised $564,000.

According to the filings, Torres Small took in $1,883,667 from July 1 to September 30. Her campaign reported that she had $1,085,381 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, the records show Herrell, a state lawmaker, raised $564,027 during the same filing period. She reportedly has $419,124 cash on hand.

The vast difference in fundraising has further given Democrats hope that Torres Small can flip the traditional GOP-leaning congressional district along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is evident of Xochitl’s hard work,” Torres Small campaign manager Brian Sowyrda. “She’s the first person in and usually the last person out at all our events.”

The seat currently is held by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for New Mexico governor.

The fundraising numbers also come as Herrell facing mounting criticism for so far avoiding debates with Torres Small. Rob Burgess, a senior adviser to Herrell’s campaign dismissed those complaints and said Herrell has appeared at several forums with Torres Small since the primary.

“However, based on previous commitments, Yvette Herrell is unable to attend the (KOAT-TV) debate because she will be meeting with voters in their own communities,” said Burgess said.

Burgess did not say if Herrell planned to participate in any debates before the midterms.

Unlike previous Democratic candidates in the district, Torres Small is embracing the area’s oil and gas economy and has appeared in campaign ads holding a hunting rifle. The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who grew up Mormon, Torres Small rarely mentions President Donald Trump on the campaign trail.

Herrell defeated her GOP primary opponents after expressing staunch support for Trump and his plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The state lawmaker from Alamogordo, New Mexico, is a real estate businesswoman and a conservative on social issues. In campaign commercials, Herrell promotes herself as a fiscally responsible lawmaker who would limit spending in Washington.

Democrats have long targeted the heavily Hispanic congressional district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. But the district recently has remained in GOP hands largely because of Pearce, who has attracted support from Hispanics and the region’s oil and gas interests.

Trump won the district by roughly 10 percentage points in 2016.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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