LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Democratic candidate Xochitl Torres Small has won the Congressional District 2 race, according to preliminary results from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. Canvassing will take place on Friday.
The water attorney secured her first political office with enough absentee ballots to wash away State Representative and Republican candidate Yvette Herrell.
Long lines and an unexpected volume of absentee ballots added more drama to the race.
At least three voting stations in Doña Ana county reported long lines at the booths even after 7 p.m., when polls closed.
Multiple media outlets called the race for Herrell on Election Night. However, as first reported in the Daily Lobo, the race was too close to call after Doña Ana County Clerk Amanda López Askin called a halt to the absentee vote counts just after midnight.
López Askin told the Daily Lobo that Doña Ana county had “triple to quadruple the amount of absentee ballots this year” compared to both 2014 and 2016.
Absentee ballot results were released Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., showing that Torres Small secured more than 6,000 of the around 8,000 absentee ballots in Doña Ana County. She only needed 1,800 to close the gap with Herrell.
Torres Small won by 1.4 percent, well past the 0.25 percent requirement that triggers automatic vote recounts in the state of New Mexico. That percentage may change when provisional ballots, which number around 1,000, are counted Friday.
However, even if Herrell won 100 percent of the provisional vote, she would still be around 1.1 percent behind Torres Small.
In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Torres Small expressed her appreciation to the people of the 2nd Congressional District.
“I’m just feeling immense gratitude, this is an incredible thing to get to represent the home that I love,” Torres Small said. “I’m also feeling the heavy weight of responsibility for the work that it is going to take to represent everyone in this enormous district, I know it’s going to be a lot of work.”
CD-2 encompasses roughly 19 counties in central and southern New Mexico — larger than the state of Pennsylvania in total area. Stretching as far north as portions of Bernalillo County, it includes southeastern mining and oil areas, swathes of farmland and the second largest city in the state, Las Cruces.
CD-2 was a closely-watched race nationally as Democrats attempted to take back the Republican-held house. According toThe Guardian, Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representative adding 28 seats, some races are still up in the air.
Torres Small made headlines earlier last month when she raised a record $1.9 million between July and October — which is more than any New Mexico congressional candidate has raised in a single fundraising quarter.
At the celebration in her headquarters after the vote, Torres Small thanked her supporters profusely, with feet swept off the ground in exuberant hugs, and tears in her eyes.
Friends and family including her parents toasted her, and chanted her name. She made her second speech of the night very short.
“In case folks haven’t noticed, I am losing my voice, but the good thing is our vote is our voice,” Torres Small said.
Her husband, Rep. Nathan Small, a democratic member of the state legislature, who just won nearly 60 percent of the vote in District 38, spoke after his wife.
“She is so talented, she has this diverse experience,” Small said. “But what I think we see again and again, whether it’s in a giant crowd or one-on-one — is her heart.”
The Herrell Campaign said in a press release they will not concede the race, adding “there will be no further comment from the Yvette Herrell campaign until after all ballots have been counted.”
Danielle Prokop is a senior reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ProkopDani.