With some 8000 absentee ballots added to the total, the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District flipped in favor of Xochitl Torres Small, the Democrat. On election night, experts had called the race for Republican Yvette Herrell.
Final numbers from the N.M Secretary of State’s Office showed Torres Small winning by a thin margin, 50.7 to 49.3 percent.
Torres Small becomes the first woman to represent the 2nd Congressional District.
Herrell, a state representative, was not only close to becoming the first female to represent the district, she would have been among the first Native American women heading toCongress next year.
But the Dona Ana County election officials announced Wednesday they still had several thousand absentee ballots to add to the count. Dona Ana County voters went decidely for Torres Small. This meant the additional ballots were enough to close the gap and give Torres Small the lead and the win.
The women were vying for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who gave up the seat and ran unsuccessfully for governor.
Election night, Torres Small, a water attorney, appeared in front of the crowd at the Las Cruces Convention Center, as the crowd repeatedly cheered “Xochitl! Xochitl! Xochitl!” She had been cautious with those who claimed she would win and was not about to concede defeat.
“We’ll see, we’ll see,” Torres Small said.
Torres Small is now part of the new Democrat majority that retook the U.S. House Tuesday.
As part of the campaign, Herrell raised 1.2 million from Aug. 4, 2017 through June 30 2018. Torres Small raised 3.5 million from Jan. 6 2018 through June 30, 2018.
Despite Torres Small raising more than $3 million, she did not loan money to her campaign. Herrell contributed $6,564.98 to her campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The district covers the vast expanse of southern New Mexico, extending from the Texas and Mexican borders to the southern edge of Albuquerque, and includes the communities of Las Cruces, Roswell, Carlsbad, Alamogordo and Hobbs. It is the fifth largest district in the nation and was created in 1968.
Republicans have controlled the district since 1980, with the exception of former U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, a democrat who served from 2009 to 2011. Pearce previously represented the district from 2003 to 2009.
Since the district was created, five Democrats have held the seat.
Joshua Grajeda is a reporter for the NM News Port, he can be contacted on Twitter @JoshGeee_.
Dani Prokop contributed to this report.