By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board
For voters in the 2nd Congressional District who are partisan loyalists, the race between Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez is an easy call. For us moderates, unfortunately, there is no clear pick. Whoever wins is likely to be either well left or well right of center.
Ultimately, we give a nod to Vasquez for several reasons.
Herrell has tied herself closely with former President Trump; Vasquez has made, and tried to cover up, extremist statements on social media about race, policing, fossil fuels and immigration. Recently, both have tried to soften their extreme positions.
For Herrell, one of her first actions in Congress was to object to certifying the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Later, she voted against the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Asked a simple yes/no question in a Journal questionnaire about whether she believed Trump’s claim that he was the legitimate winner, Herrell said “Joe Biden is our president. But there are concerns about election integrity that still need to be addressed.” For Vasquez, he is now saying how “incredibly important” the oil and gas industry is to New Mexico after deleting tweets that oppose fracking and support the Green New Deal.
Yet Vasquez’s actions have spoken louder than words. Though dark-money ads have made him out to be a “defund the police” extremist, he consistently voted to increase the budget of police in Las Cruces, where he served on the City Council from 2018-21. He also seems determined to bring more economic empowerment to the district, and has valuable experience with the business community as the former executive director of the Las Cruces Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
His primary goals in Congress include strengthening the middle class and prioritizing workers and small businesses. New Mexico’s southern congressional district — which after redistricting now reaches up to include a chunk of metro Albuquerque — needs an advocate for immigration reform. Vasquez — a native Spanish speaker and first-generation American who has lived on both sides of the border — brings a needed perspective to the issue.
We hope that, if elected, he lives up to his more recent, moderate stances.
Meanwhile, we have a hard time getting past Herrell’s votes, including against the CHIPS And Science Act, a must-have for the nation and New Mexico.
Her staff explained she voted against the bill because “… the Democrat majority tied the CHIPS and Science Act to a massive tax hike and spending spree. …”
Such are the tough choices of members of Congress. While Herrell’s concerns for “fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and reining in the national debt” are valid, New Mexico needed her support on the bill critical to rebuilding our domestic computer chip production.
She also let New Mexicans down when she voted against a $2.5 billion appropriation to cover wildfire recovery costs in northern New Mexico.
New Mexico needs problem solvers who can negotiate and find common ground. Herrell has too often simply voted “no” to earn our endorsement.