Note: All week we will be counting down the top ten stories of 2018, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See them all here as they come in!
New Mexico was the site of one of the closest and most hard-fought congressional races in the nation. Ultimately, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small pulled the upset and won the race for the state’s most conservative congressional district by just 3,722 votes.
Outside political groups, such as PACs and Super PACs, on both sides poured millions of dollars into the southern-New Mexico race.
And neither Torres Small nor Republican candidate Yvette Herrell had a free ride in the primary. Torres Small defeated Madeleine Hildebrandt in the Democratic primary, while Herrell won a four-way primary over Monty Newman, Gavin Clarkson and Clayburn Griffin.
But the end of the race itself was the most interesting part.
On election night, Herrell declared victory and even gave a victory speech. This came after some media outlets projected Herrell as the winner.
But hours later, after midnight, the Dona Ana County Clerk announced approximately 8,000 absentee ballots were not included in the unofficial results—and that the county still had 4,000 votes to count.
The county received more than 8,300 absentee ballots—the second-most in the district’s history, and more than double any of the last three elections. The county clerk’s office was overwhelmed and didn’t finish counting ballots until Wednesday night, the day after polls closed.
When those votes were counted, Torres Small had won more than 6,400 of them, leading her to victory.
Still, Herrell hasn’t ruled out contesting the results, citing unnamed “various reports of inconsistencies” of the race after impounding the absentee ballots. The deadline to contest the results is Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, Torres Small has taken part in orientation for new members of Congress and doing other work to get ready to become a member of Congress.