It’s a measure of how ridiculous the current campaign environment has become that the biggest question for the CD2 Republican primary is: Who loved Trump the most – five years ago?
It’s an incredibly dumb issue on which to decide an election. In 2016, more than 55% of Republican primary voters supported one of the other 16 candidates in the race. But that’s irrelevant now. What’s important is whether those Republicans now believe the Trump administration is a success – and the answer is that about 94% of them do. This includes both Yvette Herrell and Claire Chase – both of whom, like a majority of Republicans, backed someone else in the 2016 primaries.
After all, Trump’s own press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said far worse things about Trump in 2016 than either Herrell or Chase did. Trump doesn’t view that as disqualifying McEnany, so neither should Republican primary voters.
“Not so,” say the Democrats. That’s right: Enter the Democrats, stage left. Progressive Democrats are now – very sincerely, no doubt – playing in the Republican primary. A Democratic SuperPAC, Patriot Majority, is openly and brazenly endorsing Yvette Herrell and viciously attacking Claire Chase. They are spending $250,000 on TV and mail to try to make the case Herrell might have been for Trump before Chase was for Trump.
Why are the Democrats doing this?
Answer: Because they believe – with a lot of evidence – that Herrell is the much weaker candidate.
This should be starting to make sense now.
As far as we know, Yvette Herrell is a fine person and was a decent state representative. However, she’s not someone who is able to articulate issues at the congressional level – on the big stage, so to speak. As a result of that lack of confidence, she refused to debate Xochitl Torres Small in 2018. This led voters to believe she didn’t understand the issues, causing many to vote against her.
So even though the GOP had won the same seat by 57,283 votes just two years earlier, Herrell’s weak candidacy and poor campaign resulted in her losing by 3,722 votes.
This represented an enormous swing of more than 61,000 votes against the Republican candidate. That’s an incredible indictment of Herrell’s weakness as a congressional candidate. Herrell lost the support of 46,000 voters who had supported the previous Republican candidate, while Torres Small gained more than 16,000 voters who had refused to support the previous Democratic nominee.
If Herrell did that poorly in a year in which CD2 was an open seat, why on earth should she be “stronger” against Torres Small now that she is the incumbent?
The answer is: She won’t be.
Democrats are not dumb. They repeatedly go back to tried and true tactics.
The Democrats are trying to accomplish something in New Mexico they’ve successfully pulled off before in Nevada, Missouri, Indiana and Delaware: Trick Republicans into nominating the weaker candidate so Democrats can win the general election. As usual, they’re pushing irrelevant issues to distract the average voter. But rather than follow the Democrats’ hypnotic campaign ads, GOP voters should look more closely at the two candidates.
Like most Republicans around the country, Chase and Herrell pretty much agree on every single issue: the border wall, right-to-life, Second Amendment and restarting and rebuilding the economy.
The key difference is Chase is vastly more articulate, has far greater command of the issues and can debate the Democratic incumbent. Herrell can do none of those things.
Additionally, Claire Chase has raised 50% more campaign funds than Herrell, $1.2 million vs. $800,000, in a much shorter time, demonstrating Herrell’s continued inability to appeal to conservative donors.
The Democrats clearly believe they can easily beat Herrell again. That’s why they’re working hard to ensure she wins the primary.
CD2 Republican voters need to see through all of this. Otherwise, they’ll have fallen for the same dirty tricks Democrats have used over and over.
Rod Adair is a former elections administrator for the N.M. secretary of state, political demographer and retired Army officer.