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The Latest: Democrat Torres Small wins US House seat

November 8, 2018
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New Mexico 2nd District candidate Xochitl Torres Small enters the Democratic watch party at the Las Cruces Convention Center, surrounded by supporters and receiving cheers and hugs, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Las Cruces, N.M. (Josh Bachman/The Las Cruces Sun News via AP)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the midterm election in New Mexico (all times local):

6:53 p.m.

Democrat Xochitl (ZOH’-cheel) Torres Small has won an open U.S. House seat representing southern New Mexico’s 2nd District in a closely watched race.

The 33-year-old water rights attorney defeated Republican state lawmaker Yvette Herrell for a seat that has been held by the GOP for years.

It was open because the incumbent Republican, Rep. Steve Pearce, ran for New Mexico governor, a race he lost.

Torres Small ran as a moderate Democrat who promised to help the district’s lucrative oil and gas industry and push for immigration reform.

The 54-year-old Herrell is a member of the Cherokee Nation and would have been one of the first Native American women elected to the House. She ran as a staunch backer of President Donald Trump and his support for a border wall.

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3:30 p.m.

Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has been tapped by New Mexico’s Democratic governor-elect to help recruit a Cabinet and guide her transition to the top office in state government.

Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced the appointment of Bingaman and campaign staffer Dominic Gabello as leaders of her transition team.

Lujan Grisham said special attention is being paid to potential leaders of the Departments of Children, Youth and Families and Health and Human Services that oversee child wellbeing and administer Medicaid and food stamps programs.

Bingaman is a former state attorney general and five-term senator. On Jan. 1, Lujan Grisham will succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

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12:30 p.m.

Two key New Mexico counties are still counting ballots in a closely watched U.S. House race in southern New Mexico.

New Mexico Secretary of State spokesman Alex Curtas said Wednesday that Dona Ana County still needs to count around 4,000 absentee ballots and submit 4,000 other votes.

In addition, Curtas says Cibola County officials also are “rerunning” ballots on slow machines.

Republican Yvette Herrell and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small remain locked in a tight race for U.S. House seat in southern New Mexico that is still too close to call.

It remains unclear when those outstanding ballots will be reported.

Cibola County Clerk Michelle Dominguez and Dona Ana County Chief Deputy Clerk Lindsey Bachman didn’t immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press.

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11:20 a.m.

An appointed Republican state lawmaker has narrowly won election to a seat on the eastern outskirts of Albuquerque.

Election results on Wednesday showed Rep. Gregg Schmedes of Tijeras defeating Democrat Jessica Velasquez in a district where Republicans dominate voter registration rolls.

Democrats broadened their majority hold on the state House of Representative in the midterm election Tuesday as U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham won the gubernatorial race.

In other legislative races, Democrat and retired physician Bill Pratt will fill a seat previously held by Republican Larry Larranaga for more than two decades. Republican state Rep. Jason Harper of Rio Rancho won election to a fourth term.

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1 p.m.

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham seized the New Mexico governor’s office away from Republican control as Democratic candidates swept a long list of statewide races.

Sentiments against President Donald Trump were running high across much of the state as Lujan Grisham defeated GOP Congressman Steve Pearce by a wide margin in Tuesday’s election.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will serve a second term after winning a three-way race. Democrat Debra Haaland will fill Lujan Grisham’s congressional seat.

Democrats won re-election as attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer. Democratic state lawmaker Stephanie Garcia Richard will become the state’s first female land commissioner.

The election positions Democrats to overhaul public education standards and funding, and the state’s approach to hot-button issues including climate change.

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