This rural southern New Mexico seat is the state's most GOP-friendly: it voted for President Trump 50 percent to 40 percent in 2016. But it's not uncharted territory for Democrats: in 2008, when GOP Rep. Steve Pearce ran for Senate, a conservative Democratic oil and gas businessman won it for a term. Now that Pearce is leaving again to run for governor, 2018 is shaping up to be another ripe opportunity for Democrats.

Democrats may have a star in charismatic Las Cruces water rights attorney Xochitl Torres Small. Torres Small, 33, grew up in Las Cruces, graduated from Georgetown and UNM Law School, and became Sen. Tom Udall's regional point person. She's well-connected with Las Cruces's liberal activists but is also an enthusiastic hunter. In her first ad, she walks through farms and ranches touting she's "spent her career protecting water rights."

Torres Small's real opportunity may lie in exploiting GOP divisions. Freedom Caucus-backed state Rep. Yvette Herrell won the June GOP primary with 49 percent to 32 percent for former state GOP chair Monty Newman. A self-styled "Trump conservative,"

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