Congressional swing district too early to call in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two Democratic congresswomen won reelection to seats in New Mexico on Tuesday while it was too early to call the winner in the state’s only other district, defended by incumbent Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell.

Herrell was vying for a second term in the 2nd Congressional District on a conservative platform of strict border security and unfettered support for the oil industry.

Democratic nominee Gabe Vasquez campaigned to flip the majority-Hispanic district on support for more equitable access to economic opportunity, a humanitarian approach to immigration and greater accountability for climate change in a major energy-production region. The district stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico across desert oilfields and portions of Albuquerque.

A victory by Herrell would preserve a Republican foothold in a state where Democrats have otherwise dominated elections for federal and statewide offices.

In New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury won reelection, beating Republican nominee and former police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes.

Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez won reelection to the 3rd Congressional District, defeating Republican challenger Alexis Martinez Johnson.

Vasquez, a former Las Cruces city councilor, has emphasized his Hispanic heritage and an upbringing along the border in a working-class, immigrant family.

Herrell and Vasquez both cast their opponents as extremists in ads highlighting Herrell’s denial that Biden was legitimately elected president and past activism by Vasquez for social justice causes in since-deleted social media posts and TV footage of the candidate as a masked street protester.

New Mexico’s newly redrawn congressional districts divvy up the politically conservative southeastern corner of the state — a premier U.S. production zone for petroleum. Legal proceedings are pending that could reverse the redistricting plan before the next election in 2024.

The 2nd District still includes portions of the oil-rich Permian Basin, and Herrell cast herself as an unwavering advocate for the oil and natural gas industry as a bedrock of energy independence from foreign imports and a source of local government income.