Commentary: You can tell it is past Labor Day in an election year, because the attack ads are in full bloom. The Sun-News is cited as a source for one of the ads targeting U.S. House candidate Xochitl Torres Small.The ad, which was produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee, warns that Torres Small supports a “radical takeover of health care.” The image features Torres Small on one side of the screen in a pink jacket, with a microphone in her left hand and her right hand raised in the air in what might be a fist. It’s hard to tell. On the other side of the screen is a man in a wheelchair with his head in his hand. It states, “total government takeover of health care” and cites the Las Cruces Sun-News, May, 31, 2018 as the source.Which came as a surprise to me, since I asked the original question, wrote the story and still had a pretty clear recollection of what she actually said:“The first priority for health care should be to preserve the Affordable Care Act. We also have to achieve comprehensive health care so everybody has access to affordable health care. In doing that, I’m open to pursuing all pathways.”For its part, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee countered with an ad attacking Torres Small’s Republican opponent Yvette Herrell for failing to disclose rent money paid by state agencies to her real estate company. She later amended her filing to account for the expenses. And, it is not unusual for members of the Legislature to own private businesses that have contracts with state government. If that is an unacceptable conflict, it should be ended by legislation, not shamming at election time.To be clear, neither ad was put out by the opposing campaign. Both were efforts by folks in Washington, D.C. who are trying to “educate” New Mexico voters. Expect more such schooling in the weeks ahead, as this race has gained national attention.The frustrating part is that Torres Small and Herrell have legitimate differences on health care that don’t need to be exaggerated. On her campaign website, Torres Small calls for lowering prescription drug costs, fixing the VA and protecting Medicare. Herrell doesn’t address health care specifically on her website, but says federal government over-reach is one of the greatest concerns she hears about from New Mexicans.Health care is just one of many issues on which the two candidates have vastly different views. That is what the race should be about.With the exception of two years when Harry Teague borrowed the seat, the Second District has been represented by Steve Pearce ever since the 2002 election. He is well known in the district, with voters on both sides holding strong opinions on how well he’s done.Torres Small and Herrell are both new to that kind of attention. Herrell has served in the state Legislature, but is not well known outside of her district in Alamogordo. Torres Small is making her first run for an elected office.Because both come into the race as relatively blank slates, there will be a desperate effort by those in D.C. to fill in the blanks. When those portrayals make the candidate sound too good or too evil to be true, that’s because they are not true.Walter Rubel is editorial page editor of the Sun-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @WalterRubel on Twitter.
Rubel: Attack Ads Arrive As National Parties Pour Cash In US House District 2 Race
By Walt Rubel-Las Cruces Sun-News • Sep 26, 2018