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Bruce’s last shot at November’s election

This is my last shot at the upcoming election. Like many citizens, I have already given the only opinion that matters by voting early. Still, there may be a few undecided voters.

Nationally, this is one of the most important elections — certainly the most important midterm — in recent history. The House and Senate are both up for grabs, and the results will determine what, if anything, happens for the next two years.

Our senators are not on the ballot, but we’ll have a minor say on the House when we vote between Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez.

There are lots of ways to evaluate that contest, but for me, it’s simple. Herrell voted against certifying the national election on the night of Jan. 6, 2021, after she and other lawmakers were driven out of the Capitol by rioters. I think no one should vote for an election denier.

Fortunately, election denial isn’t common here. At the recent candidate forum between Republican incumbent state Rep. Luis Terrazas and Democratic challenger Rudy Martinez, both said they would accept the result if they lost, and agreed that Joe Biden won in 2020.

It seems too obvious to be proud of, but in other states, candidates have said in advance that they will claim fraud if they lose. (But you may recall that in 2020, a Grant County group spent time and money fruitlessly trying to prove election fraud.)

The local debate was mostly predictable. The biggest surprise for me was when Martinez said he would consider restoring the sales tax on food, while Terrazas said he wouldn’t.

I was disappointed that neither candidate clarifi ed their abortion positions. Yes, Terrazas is against abortion, and Martinez is for a woman’s choice. But the attack ads aren’t about that.

Democratic ads claim Terrazas wants to ban abortion in the case of rape and incest, or to save the life of the mother. Republican ads claim Martinez wants to allow abortions minutes before birth. If those claims are inaccurate, a debate would be the perfect time to clear the air. But no one asked and no one told.

I appreciated and agreed with Martinez’s answer that a woman in a diffi cult situation should make her own choice with the advice of her physician. I wouldn’t object to regulations requiring her to make those decisions in the fi rst part of her pregnancy, but I wouldn’t envy the legislators drawing the lines.

I disagree with Terrazas’ stand against abortion, but I would disagree respectfully if he supported reasonable exceptions.

But he said nothing about that.

What specific abortion laws, if any, would either candidate propose, support or, at least, accept? Watching a recent sports event, I saw back-to-back attack ads against Herrell and Vasquez. Negative ads seem to encourage extreme positions. All nuance is lost. On the other hand, the “reasonable” part of the debate was not particularly enlightening. Yes, we’re all against taxes. Yes, we’re all in favor of the improvements taxes can pay for. Both candidates criticized cannabis taxation and regulation, but too late.

I was confused by the discussion of police, qualified immunity and red flag laws. Neither candidate mentioned local instances of police misconduct. No need to rehash the Nikki Bascom case. Suffice it to say that recent police behavior hasn’t been a great advertisement against red flag laws or for qualified immunity. Terrazas said the end of qualified immunity makes police recruiting difficult. But why would a community hire police candidates who try to evade responsibility for their actions? Martinez cautiously supported qualified immunity and red flag laws, but with reservations. Both candidates were strongly supportive of police, but I believe part of supporting police is training them to act professionally, and holding them responsible if they don’t.

I’ll get off the soapbox and back to elections.

Candidate positions may not make the difference in this election anyway. The Herrell/Vasquez race may be determined by last year’s redistricting. The same may be true in the Martinez/Terrazas race. Grant County is no longer split between Districts 39 and 38, and so we may not see the anomaly of a Democratic county represented by two Republicans.

Whether you define these changes as gerrymandering or the end of gerrymandering, they might make a big difference. Or maybe not.

It’s the same in other states. In fact, New Mexico elections are tame compared to what’s going on in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and many other states. The fi nal count in Congress will affect us, but, with the exception of the Herrell/Vasquez contest, national policy for the next two years is being decided elsewhere.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

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Bruce McKinney

Bruce McKinney is a Silver City business owner, close observer of local government and occasional troublemaker. In his column, which appears every other Wednesday, he tries to address big questions from a local perspective. Send comments and ideas to

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