Undecided New Mexico Democrat Faces Constituent Backlash over Impeachment Vote

Rep.-elect Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., reacts after drawing her number during the Member-elect room lottery draw on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Torres Small drew 61 out of 85, which determines the order in which she gets to select her new Capitol Hill office. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

First term Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-2) is one of 31 Democrats who represent districts Donald Trump won in 2016.

On Tuesday, Torres Small gave a local New Mexico television station a non-committal statement on how she plans to vote when articles of impeachment are brought before the full House next week, as is currently expected.

“This is one of the gravest responsibilities granted to Congress by the Constitution and I am taking the time befitting such a duty to weigh the facts, allegations, and consequences,” she told KOAT.

Given President Trump’s 10.2 point margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in this geographically large rural district that extends south from the suburbs of Albuquerque to the Mexican border, Torres-Small’s hesitance to commit either way on the vote that will define his political career is understandable.

Former State Rep. Yvette Herrel, who narrowly lost to Torres Small in 2018 by less than two points, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent, told Breitbart News Saturday that her former and likely future rival was engaged in a “charade” over impeachment:

Herrell said that Rep. Torres Small ran as a pragmatic Democrat; however, she moved to back impeachment instead of improving the lives of the average New Mexican.

“I think disappointment would be the understatement because you’re absolutely right. She ran in the midterm as a moderate Democrat, that she would work or the people of New Mexico protect our industries, our culture, our way of life. She’s anything but a moderate, her voting record is 93 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi, truly not conducive to the people of New Mexico. People want to secure the border, that border wall is very important,” the New Mexico conservative added. . .

“There are so many things we could be excited about it, but we’re not because we’re watching this circus in Washington, DC, and people are starting to understand that we’re wasting so much time and money,” she said.

Herrell said that Democrats such as Torres Small are “doing nothing to address the real issues. And this kind of charade… is very wearing thin on New Mexico voters.”

Conservative groups have already spent millions of dollars on ads targeting swing district Democrats, including Torres Small, , as Fox News reported:

Republicans are smelling blood. Right-leaning groups continue to target moderate Democrats and inundate them with advertising.

A leading spender in the effort, American Action Network, launched an $8.5 million TV impeachment ad blitz targeting Democratic members including Jared Golden of Maine, Susie Lee of Nevada, Slotkin of Michigan, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Elaine Luria of Virginia.

“Impeachment is going to be a political death sentence for every vulnerable Democrat — no matter how they vote,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams told Fox News. “Either they are going to alienate the independent voters they need or alienate their Democratic Trump-hating base, which they also need to win.”

Torres Small was one of the 231 Democrats who voted in favor of the resolution to formally initiate the impeachment inquiry in October. Only two Democrats in the House–Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) and Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ-2)–voted against that resolution. Like Torres-Small, both Peterson and Van Drew are among those 31 Democrats who represent districts the president won in 2016.

Both Peterson and Van Drew have publicly indicated they are likely to vote against both articles of impeachment against the president that are expected to be brought to the floor of the House some time next week, though both have hedged their comments.

Peterson told CNN’s Manu Raj on Monday he was “leaning” against voting in support of impeachment. Last week, Van Drew said he expected to voted against impeachment, barring any new developments.

On Thursday, one of the 31 battleground district Democrats–Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) — stated he would vote to impeach.

But Torres Small appears to be even more vulnerable in 2020 than Lamb and other swing district Democrats.

Torres Small’s re-election prospects are already in jeopardy because Donald Trump will be on the same ballot in 2020, and turnout will be significantly higher.

A poll of 300 likely voters in the district released by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale on Tuesday adds to the political heat Torres-Small is experiencing, as Breitbart News reported:

“Based on what you know, do you favor or oppose Congress impeaching Trump?” the survey asked.

A majority, 56 percent, in Torres Small’s district opposed and 41 percent favored, while 53 percent in Cartwright’s district opposed and 44 percent supported. More voters in both districts said they would be “less likely” to vote for the Democrat incumbents if they voted in favor of impeachment, and the vast majority in both districts indicated that the lawmakers should “move past impeachment and work on more pressing issues and let the voters decide President Trump’s fate in next November.”

Additionally, over 60 percent of voters in both groups indicated that the lawmakers “should stop wasting time and tax dollars on impeachment and focus on solving problems Americans face.”

The poll was conducted by Fabrizio Lee from December 9 to December 10 and has a 5.6 percent margin of error.

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