- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2020

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and Republican challenger Yvette Herrell have agreed to at least two televised debates in a closely watched race in southern New Mexico.

And they may be looking for more.

Torres Small and Herrell said this week they agreed to participate in a KOB-TV debate and another sponsored by KOAT-TV and the Albuquerque Journal.

Both say they’d like to add some more debates in the El Paso, Texas market, which is home to many residents in the southern part of the district.

The scheduled debates come two years after Torres Small defeated Herrell by less than 4,000 votes in 2018. But the two never faced off in a televised debate and Herrell, a former state lawmaker from Alamogordo, New Mexico, faced criticism for avoiding televised debates and focusing on conservative media appearances.



This time, however, Herrell immediately challenged Torres Small to debate shortly after winning her heated GOP primary in June.

This week, Herrell released her first television ad where she speaks in front of chili and oil fields to reintroduce herself to general election voters. “In Congress, I’ll work across lines that divide us to safely reopen our economy and I’ll promote innovation in healthcare to drive down costs and keep our families safe,” Herrell says in the new ad.

The tone is different from her Republican primary campaign where she emphasized her strong support for President Donald Trump and touted her endorsements from U.S. House Freedom Caucus members - some of the most conservative members of Congress who have refused to work with Democrats on many issues.

Torres Small has released a series of ads where she touts putting “politics aside” and working with Trump to pass a COVID-19 relief package. “I’ll work with anyone who wants to deliver for New Mexico,” Torres Small said.

The Las Cruces Democrat rarely mentioned Trump during her 2018 campaign.

The sprawling district is home to a lucrative oil region but also has some of the most impoverished communities in the U.S. The district has the highest percentage of Hispanic voters in New Mexico, which is the state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents.

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This story corrects a previous version to say Herrell said she’ll work “across lines that divide” voters.

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