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GOP congressional candidate reports fundraising jolt

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Claire Chase, an oil executive and Republican candidate for a critical U.S. House race in New Mexico, is reporting a fundraising surge just days into her candidacy.

Chase’s campaign reported Tuesday she has raised $510,790 in 35 days. That amount is more than former state lawmaker and fellow GOP opponent Yvette Herrell raised during the entire 2018 Republican primary.

The fundraising jolt comes after Chase announced in late August she would seek the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-Las Cruces, for the state’s southern congressional seat.

Torres Small defeated Herrell in 2018 by fewer than 3,000 votes to flip a traditionally Republican-leaning district that sits along the Mexico border. However, she outraised Herrell by a nearly 3-to-1 margin by tapping into donors from outside of New Mexico.

Torres Small became only the second Democrat to win the traditionally Republican-leaning district.

Records show Torres Small has raised more than $1 million since January.

The Chase campaign said 98.6% of Chase’s contributions come from individuals and around 82% came from people who live in New Mexico.

Chase campaign spokesman Craig Murphy said she still had around $470,000 cash on hand.

“When I announced a few weeks ago, I promised to run an aggressive campaign that would put the Democrats on notice. Herrell’s failure in 2018 helped deliver the majority to the Democrats and placed the speaker’s gavel in the hands of (Democratic House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” Chase said in a statement. “This fundraising effort is a first step toward keeping my promise, and I will continue that work.”

In a statement, Dakotah Parshall, Herrell’s campaign manager, said he isn’t surprised by Chase’s fundraising numbers because she “married into the wealthiest family in the state.”

Herrell has positioned herself as a stronger supporter for President Donald Trump and has touted her endorsements from members of the conservative U.S. House Freedom Caucus. Herrell and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys, who is also running in the GOP primary, have not released their latest financial reports yet.

Torres Small, a granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, rarely mentioned Trump on the campaign trail in 2018 and promised to uphold the region’s “rural values.” In Congress, Torres Small has attempted to portray herself as a moderate on issues around immigration and spending.

The sprawling district is home to a lucrative oil region but also has some of the most impoverished communities in the U.S. The district houses the highest percentage of Hispanic voters in the state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents.

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