Herrell and Vasquez present cases for NM CD2 voters in televised debate

It was quick, polite, well prepared and flawless. The candidates exchanged blows but spoke in their time without interruption or interference. Then they shook hands and it was done.

Candidates in the closely watched contest for Southern New Mexico’s seat in Congress gathered for a single half-hour debate, at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night, taking turns answering questions and rebutting each other on KOB -TV.

And while there was no knockout blow, Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell kept Democratic challenger Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez on the defensive in the face of social media posts being deleted and security forces order. He, in turn, criticized his first term in Congress and presented himself as an advocate for working-class families in southern New Mexico.

Democrats hope to reclaim the traditionally Republican district in the Nov. 8 election in a year when the GOP is expected to regain a majority in the House of Representatives. The district encompasses the entire southern border of New Mexico, the rural southwest corner of the state as well as the Las Cruces metropolitan area and part of the southeast oil and gas region, extending north to Albuquerque, including the South Valley and West side of town.

U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell, RN.M., speaks to the media during the Truth and Courage Rally Monday, Oct. 3, 2022 at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

Herrell is a real estate agent and former Alamogordo State legislator who was elected to Congress in 2020. Vasquez is a former Las Cruces City Councilman who is running for federal office for the first time.

In his opening statement, Herrell said, “We want a nation that has a strong economy, a secure nation, and we want to make sure that we live in a country that celebrates the Constitution.” She presented herself as an experienced representative attentive to the needs of urban and rural areas and argued that unified democratic control was holding back progress, saying: “One-party rule doesn’t work.”

She also claimed credit for working “to bring money back to those affected by the fires” over the past summer, despite voting against an interim spending bill that included 2, $5 billion in recovery funds for those affected by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire. . She did it, she argued, to oppose high spending under Democratic leadership.

Vasquez incorporated Spanish into his opening and closing statements, telling the story of his grandfather’s immigration to the United States and his own working-class upbringing, and argued for a version of the “American Dream which included affordable health care, work for fair wages, and “the freedom to make your own decisions about your own body,” a reference to abortion debates.

Gabe Vasquez, candidate for U.S. Congressional District 2, addresses the crowd at a rally to promote Democratic candidates and abortion rights on October 15, 2022.

The candidates answered questions about the US-Mexico border, the oil and gas industry on which New Mexico’s revenue depends, election security and bodily autonomy as it relates to vaccines as well as abortion.

Vasquez called for comprehensive immigration reform while Herrell highlighted border smuggling of people and narcotics and demanded tighter checks on crossings, specifically endorsing policies requiring applicants asylum to wait outside the United States while their cases are pending.

Herrell has repeatedly questioned Vasquez’s views on law enforcement throughout the debate, building on misleading claims in recent weeks that Vasquez supported funding or eliminating of the font. She also hammered him for deleting social media posts from 2020 that expressed blunt views on police reform, white supremacy and the fossil fuel industry.

Ironically, in a deleted Twitter postVasquez wrote, “It’s OK to oppose fracking, OK to support the Green New Deal, OK to support Medicare for All, OK to talk about progressive immigration reform, OK to defend this that you believe. #Stay strong.”

Las Cruces Councilman Gabriel Vasquez, center, speaks with Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher and Doña Ana County Deputy Sheriff Jaime Quezada about Operation Stonegarden during the board meeting on Monday, August 5, 2019.

In the final weeks of the campaign, the deletion of these posts was used to suggest that Vasquez was hiding his true positions and diminishing voters’ confidence in him. In a comment for New Mexico Politics blog post, political strategist Steve Cabiedes blamed “DC consultants” for the move, saying, “You should never hide who they are.”

When Vasquez rightly pointed out that he had always voted as a councilman to approve city budgets that included increases for police budgets, Herrell turned to his opposition to a federal grant. from Operation Stonegarden requested by city and county law enforcement in 2019. As reported at the time, Vasquez sought funding from the city rather than the controversial federal program.

In an attempt to retaliate, Vasquez suggested it was Herrell who voted to “defund the police,” without going into specifics. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee argued that some of Herrell’s votes against spending bills that included funding for law enforcement constitute hypocrisy.

Herrell said she supported the right to abortion in case of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life, while Vasquez pointed out that she supported banning abortion without these exceptions. He said he would support the codification of abortion rights into federal law: “I value freedom in this country, and that means women in this country need to have the ability to make their own decisions about health care. State.”

U.S. Representative Yvette Herrell, RN.M., speaks to the crowd at the opening of a Republican Party Hispanic Outreach Center Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022 in Las Cruces.

Herrell, meanwhile, extended the issue of bodily autonomy to vaccination mandates, an issue that Vasquez did not address.

Vasquez sharply criticized Herrell for opposing the certification of electoral votes for Joe Biden in the 2020 election after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump, who had lost his re-election race . Herrell condemned the attacks but insisted there were legitimate questions about the election process in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The positions of the candidates almost coincide with regard to the production of energy. Herrell advocated an “all of the above” approach, including both oil and renewable energy production, while Vasquez called for a “two-track approach” that has given a big boost to technology and infrastructure for batteries and transmission, but also held oil and gas companies responsible for protecting the environment and paying taxes on their profits.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 election is underway, and the last day to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 3. All absentee ballots must be received by the county by 7 p.m. Nov. 8. Same-day voter registration is available. to vote at an advance poll or on polling day.

To see a sample ballot for your area, go to https://voterportal.servis.sos.state.nm.us/WhereToVote.aspx.

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Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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