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Ruiz leading Bono Mack in tight race for 36th Congressional District

November 7, 2012 |  6:26 am

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.

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.

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.


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-- Phil Willon