Raul Ruiz prepares for swearing-in

Rep.-elect Raul Ruiz is in the district this week, but his aides are busy preparing for the Jan. 3 swearing-in ceremony.

Ruiz’s campaign today invited supporters to join the Palm Desert Democrat in Washington, when the newly-elected leader of the 36th Congressional District joins the 113th Congress.

According to the invitation, a viewing party will be held that morning at Ruiz’s new office, 1319 Longworth Building. Throughout the afternoon, Ruiz’s office will host an open house and aides will provide Capitol tours.

Supporters interested in attending are encouraged to email the campaign at info@drraulruiz.com

Ruiz’s campaign has remained tight-lipped about all staff hires, either in Washington or in the desert. Ruiz has yet to annouce where his desert offices will be located.

He technically doesn’t have an office budget until he takes the oath on Jan. 3, although outgoing Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s office is expected to be closed before then.

District director Marc Troast intially told The Desert Sun the Republican’s Palm Desert office might be shuttered last Friday.

But that date came and went, and Troast now says the office at 36953 Cook Street will be open through this week at least.

Ruiz has told The Desert Sun that he would have “a very aggressive, engaged congressional office.”

“We have a strategic plan to get to January, so that once we start, we start with our feet on the ground and working hard,” Ruiz previously said.

“And I’m very motivated to roll up my sleeves again and start working hard with everyone in this district and really making a change.”

Electoral College to meet Monday, hand state’s votes to Obama

The California Electoral College will meet Monday in Sacramento to formally cast the state’s 55 electoral votes for President Obama.

The procedural meeting starts at 2 p.m. in the California Assembly’s chambers.

Obama won California with more than 60 percent of the statewide vote.

An analysis of Riverside County’s election results show Obama also won over the Coachella Valley.

The breakdown shows Obama beat GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in five of the nine desert cities: Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indio and Palm Springs.

Mary Bono Mack: Post-election ‘grieving period’ over

Outgoing Reps. Mary Bono Mack and Connie Mack continued their national media tour today, this time appearing on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown.

The married congressional couple both lost their respective election bids last month: Local voters favored Democrat Raul Ruiz to Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican. And Florida voters chose to retain U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson instead of send Mack, a Republican, to the U.S. Senate.

Bono Mack didn’t spill the beans on any post-House plans, although she has been elected to the board of the national Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

“There’s no doubt that there’s a grieving period when you lose an election but I think I’ve worked quickly through that point and I’m very excited about my next chapter in my life,” Bono Mack said during the MSNBC interview today.

Bono Mack also was quick to respond to show host Chuck Todd’s question about what lessons she would take into another campaign.

Her biggest takeaway? “Not to run again for office,” she quipped.

You can see the interview here.

Manuel Perez endorses colleague for Juan Vargas’ seat

Democrat Juan Vargas hasn’t vacated his state Senate seat yet, but that isn’t stopping some of his Capitol colleagues from lining up early endorsements.

The California Latino Legislative Caucus this week endorsed Assemblyman Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat, in the soon-to-be called special election for the 40th Senate District.

The caucus also endorsed Assemblywoman Norma Torres, a Pomona Democrat, for the Senate seat being vacated by Gloria Negrete McLeod.

“During their tenures in the state Assembly, Assemblymembers Hueso and Torres have been effective advocates for working families,” Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, a Coachella Democrat who is vice-chair of the caucus, said in a statement.

“While it will be hard to fill the shoes of Senators Negrete McLeod and Vargas, I believe Hueso and Torres are up to the challenge and will serve our state well in the Senate.”

Vargas represents a district that spans San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties, including parts of the Coachella Valley. Last month, he was elected to a San Diego-based congressional seat.

Vargas will have to vacate his current Senate seat before he is sworn into his new office, a ceremony that is scheduled for early January in Washington.

After that, Gov. Jerry Brown will set the schedule for a special election so someone can finish Vargas’ term, which runs through 2014.

Cathedral City recount starts Thursday

Riverside County election officials on Thursday will begin the much-anticipated recount of Cathedral City ballots.

The process is being funded by mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough, who has decided to pay $2,800 a day to have the pricier manual recount instead of one that relies on machines.

Yarborough lost to incumbent Mayor Kathy DeRosa by just 13 votes.

“The registrar said that there are chances of the machine missing something,” Yarborough told Desert Sun reporter Tamara Sone. “It’s expensive but people have been calling me saying that I have to do the recount.”

A machine recount would have cost $1,873 per day, according to earlier estimates.

County Registrar Kari Verjil told The Desert Sun that that first day of a recount is typically the slowest, as election officials and the observers get into their groove.

Yarborough has a team of supporters planning to go to Riverside to oversee the process.  He’s also hired a Los Angeles-based attorney to assist.

The recount will continue as long as Yarborough wants to fund it.

If Yarborough calls it off before each of the 12,303 Cathedral City ballots are recounted– as was the case during the 2010 recount of the Rancho Mirage council recount – the certified election results will stand.

The Nov. 6 election results now show DeRosa has 5,729 votes to Yarborough’s 5,716 votes. A third candidate, John David Kauffman got 858 votes.

The current schedule calls for the recount to continue Friday and — if necessary – resume on Monday. Verjil currently has no plans to have her staff work over the weekend.

There is no deadline for the registrar’s office to finish, but it is anticipated the entire recount will only take a few days.

“As a leader of this city, I am looking forward to the election coming to conclusion,” DeRosa said.

Update as of 11:45 a.m. Thursday: The photos in this blog were updated to reflect the activity this morning. The photos were submitted by Yarborough.


Barbara Boxer calls for national polling place standards

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wants to make sure people don’t have to wait all day to cast their vote.

The Rancho Mirage Democrat today introduced the LINE Act, which would require the Attorney General and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission work together on national polling place standards. Those standards, which would need to be issued by January 2014, would include setting a minimum number of voting machines, election workers and other resources to ensure no one waits longer than an hour.

“It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots,” Boxer said in a statement today. “The LINE Act will help ensure that every American has an equal chance to vote without enduring hours-long delays at their polling places.”

In a news release issued this morning, Boxer’s office noted that voters in key states such as Florida and Ohio were waiting up to seven hours to cast their ballots. Some people were still in line early Wednesday.

Such long lines are less common in California, where an increasing number of people are choosing to vote by mail.

The LINE Act is short for the “Lines Interfere with National Elections Act.”

Mary Bono Mack: Legislative career ‘an experience of a lifetime’

Rep. Mary Bono Mack issued some parting words today as she reflected on her final days in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Palm Springs Republican — who has been spotted on CNN but hasn’t given any local interviews since she was defeated in the Nov. 6 election —  issued the statement as part of a news release that touted the reauthorization of the U.S. SAFE WEB Act.

Her comments come after a lengthy description of her 14-year legislative career, including the creation of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Mountains Monument.

Here are her comments in full:

“As I prepare to leave Congress after more than 14 terrific years, I remain very optimistic about the future of America. Admittedly, we face some daunting challenges as a nation in the months and years ahead.  But the true greatness of America is measured by the things that unite us, not divide us.

“We are a people bound by enduring ideals and principles, which are embedded in an unshakable belief in truth, justice, opportunity and freedom for all.

“Despite the many challenges we are facing today, I continue to believe that our best years are ahead of us, because ours is a nation which values courage, compassion and character and stands united – and undeterred – as freedom’s greatest ally around the world.  It has been my extraordinary honor and great privilege to serve in the United States House of Representatives since 1998, and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished.

“So today, looking back on my eight terms in Congress, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes: ‘Don’t be sad that it’s over.  Be happy that it happened.’  As we approach this joyous holiday season, I have much to be thankful for and happy about.  This truly has been an experience of a lifetime.”

Bono Mack lost the election to Democrat Raul Ruiz.

She has not yet announced what she’ll do come January, although she does plan on attending the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Her husband, Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, also lost his U.S. Senate bid. But her daughter’s family — including infant grandson Sonny — live in the Washington area.

Cathedral City mayoral recount to begin Thursday after Chip Yarborough loses to Kathy DeRosa

Challenger Chip Yarborough reacted on Nov. 6 to Election Night returns, which put him ahead in the Cathedral City mayoral race. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

A manual recount in the Cathedral City mayoral race will begin Thursday, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters announced Monday.

Chip Yarborough requested the recount after Mayor Kathy DeRosa’s come-from-behind victory. She finished with 5,729 votes, a 13-vote edge.

A recount costs about $1,873 per day, the registrar estimated.

A recount of the 12,303 ballots may take about three days, bringing the total cost to about $5,600.

The public recount will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at the registrar’s office, 2724 Gateway Drive in Riverside.

Today was the last day to request a recount in Riverside County.

Related link: How recounts work in California

Mayor Kathy DeRosa portrayed as witch in campaign piece

It appears the election antics aren’t over quite yet.

The latest is a flier portraying Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa as a witch, showing her flying over the civic center on a broomstick. It is being distributed mainly through email chains and on Facebook in order to solicit donations for mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough’s recount effort.

The image was created by photographer Peter Palladino, who said he’s not involved in Yarborough’s campaign but instead saw it as “a piece of art expressing my personal political views.”

The flier, obtained by The Desert Sun, includes a reference to Yarborough’s website, although Palladino said the text was not on his original work.

Yarborough has denied any involvement with the flier, but DeRosa said today that “it speaks to the integrity of the candidate whose name is on it and (of the person) who created it.”

“If it weren’t so juvenile, it would be disgusting,” DeRosa told The Desert Sun. “For me, it speaks to a lack of leadership. That the candidate doesn’t know about it and sees it now, it should absolutely be pulled from the Facebook page.”

Yarborough, who lost the Nov. 6 election by 13 votes, had planned to formally request a recount today.

“I am not aware of this ‘flier’ and will not be reporting it (as a donation) as I did not authorize it, nor did I spend money on it,” he said in an email.

Chip Yarborough to request recount

Cathedral City mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough will request a recount after the election results showed he was just 13 votes shy of unseating Mayor Kathy DeRosa.

Yarborough made the announcement on his Facebook page this evening, and is asking supporters to help him raise the $3,000 to $10,000 to cover costs.

The Riverside County registrar earlier told The Desert Sun the recount would cost about $5,600, assuming a cost of $1,873 per day for three days.

Yarborough, a retired 911 center administrator, plans to file the request by Thursday.

“This decision was based on the many notes, phone calls and emails from so many supporters,” he wrote on Facebook today. “We have run a great campaign and I owe it to our many, many supporters to double check the count.”

Yarborough had been leading in the close race, but that lead diminished as the provisional ballots were counted.

The Nov. 6 election results, certified Monday, show DeRosa has 5,729 votes to Yarborough’s 5,716 votes. A third candidate, John David Kauffman got 858 votes.

There are no automatic recounts in California. Whoever requests a recount also must cover the costs of the process.

The deadline to request a recount is Saturday.