ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Democrat Patricia Madrid has chiseled away at Republican Rep. Heather Wilson's lead in the race for the 1st Congressional District now that Bernalillo County election workers have finished tallying hundreds of ballots.
It might be good news for Madrid, but it's also good news for Wilson's campaign.
County workers have been busy reviewing more than 3,700 provisional and in-lieu-of ballots, those given to voters who requested absentee ballots but showed up at polls to vote anyway on Election Day. Workers disqualified more than one-fifth of them Wednesday, leaving Madrid with fewer ballots to overtake Wilson.
"These numbers mean that Congresswoman Wilson's victory is more certain today than it was when she declared victory last Thursday," spokesman Enrique Carlos Knell said, noting that the percentage of votes by which Wilson leads is greater than that of congressional candidates in Virginia and other states where opponents have already conceded.
But Madrid's campaign refuses to back down.
"We had no expectations whatsoever that the in-lieu-of ballots would come in so strong for Patricia. It doesn't win the game but it keeps it moving forward," spokeswoman Heather Brewer said.
County Clerk Mary Herrera said 616 of the in-lieu-of ballots counted late Wednesday went to Madrid and 293 to Wilson, shrinking the incumbent's lead to 1,164 votes.
Election workers were tallying 1,494 provisional ballots by hand, and another 71 in-lieu-of ballots also need to be hand counted.
Herrera hoped to be done with the county's canvass by Friday afternoon. "There are processes we have to follow and it's time consuming," she said.