Ruiz leading Bono Mack in tight race for 36th Congressional District
An often-caustic political slugfest between Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) and Democratic emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz over a Coachella Valley congressional seat remained tight Wednesday, with Ruiz leading by a slim margin.
Ruiz led by less than three percentage points at daybreak, with two-thirds of precincts reporting.
Bono Mack fought the toughest battle of her 14-year political career, which began when she was elected to replace her husband, singer Sonny Bono, in Congress after his death in a skiing accident.
California’s rejiggered political maps, combined with a decline in GOP voter registration, turned the contest into a high-stakes tossup. The split between Republicans and Democrats in the district, which includes Palm Springs, Indio and Blythe, is less than 1 percentage point.
Bono Mack accused Ruiz of being a “radical” for taking part in a Native American protest of Thanksgiving when he was a Harvard medical student in the late 1990s.
Ruiz assailed Bono Mack for supporting the budget plan of GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin member of Congress; Ruiz said the plan would decimate Medicare.
The political parties and outside groups spent more than $3.3 million in the race.
-- Phil Willon