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Raul Ruiz defeats Mary Bono Mack in Riverside County upset

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Raul Ruiz, a Democratic emergency room doctor, eked out a victory over Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) in the race for the 36th Congressional District seat in the Coachella Valley.

The often-caustic political slugfest is the first defeat for Bono Mack in 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.

FULL RESULTS: California races

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.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Ruiz assailed Bono Mack for supporting the budget plan of GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; Ruiz said the plan would decimate Medicare.

The political parties and outside groups spent more than $3.3 million in the race

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-- Jessica Garrison

Photo: Raul Ruiz casts his vote Tuesday at his precinct at the Monterey Country Club in Palm Desert. Credit: Omar Ornelas / Associated Press

 
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