Raul Ruiz, Brian Nestande compete over Salton Sea

If Friday’s schedules are any indication, the Salton Sea will be a major focus of next year’s congressional campaign.

Rep. Raul Ruiz and his Republican challenger, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, have scheduled competing events Friday in their respective efforts to save the dying sea.

Granted, both events are being coordinated through their legislative offices. But it’s hard to separate those platforms from what will eventually end up on campaign literature.

Ruiz, a Palm Desert Democrat, will host a day-long gathering of federal dignitaries that includes U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Anne Castle.

The event starts at 9 a.m. at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club.

Ruiz announced his plans Wednesday.

Today, Nestande’s office put out a news release that said the Palm Desert Republican would spend Friday visiting three local high schools. He plans on touting an art contest for the new Salton Sea license plate.

If approved by lawmakers, sales from the license plates would benefit the sea’s restoration. And, out of full disclosure, The Desert Sun is supporting the contest.

Brian Nestande wants to limit bills

In an effort to get his colleagues to finally address one of his legislative pet peeves, Assemblyman Brian Nestande recently re-introduced a plan to curb the number of bills state lawmakers introduce each year.

House Resolution 4 would cut the maximum of number of bills lawmakers can introduce during the two-year cycle from 40 bills down to 30 bills.

It marks the third time Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, has introduced the idea.

In a statement, Nestande said taxpayers spend about $20,000 on each bill that goes through the legislative process.

“It is no secret that California has an overabundance of regulation.  Businesses and hard-working families of California are burdened by new laws that come out of Sacramento every year,” Nestande said in the statement.

“By lowering the bill limit, we will have more thoughtful legislation, fewer new laws enacted every year, and we will save the state up to $24 million in the process. It’s a win-win proposition for Californians.”

Raul Ruiz tries to make peace with local officers

Just back from the start of freshman orientation in Washington, Rep.-elect Raul Ruiz is already trying to build bridges with those who campaigned against him during the 36th Congressional campaign.

Ruiz, a Palm Desert Democrat, was spotted at today’s Peace Officer and Public Safety Awards luncheon in Palm Desert.

Local police unions began campaigning against Ruiz after audio tapes surfaced that showed Ruiz, as a college student participating in protests, expressed support for Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal, two men convicted of killing law enforcement officers.

Ruiz went on to unseat Rep. Mary Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican.


Ruiz is certainly not the only elected leader showing their support for local police today.

The Desert Sun also spotted Assemblyman Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican who is widely seen as a challenger to Ruiz in 2014, as well as Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia and Indio Mayor Glenn Miller, who are both likely to run for state office two years.

Ruiz, who is handing out food to needy families on Wednesday in Desert Hot Springs, will return to Washington next week to resume his new member training.

About the photo:

Congressman-elect Raul Ruiz talks to Riverside County Fire Department Indian Wells Firefighter of the Year award recipient Firefighter Paramedic Aaron Keser after the 16th Annual Peace Officer & Public Safety Awards Luncheon in Indian Wells. Photo by Desert Sun photographer Crystal Chatham

Mark Orozco expects to be ‘close’

20121106-211452.jpgMaking the most of bad odds, Democrat Mark Orozco said he expects his race with two-term GOP Assemblyman Brian Nestande to be “close.”

Throughout the campaign, Orozco struggled just to catch Nestande’s attention. But at Democrats’ election night party at the Morongo casino Tuesday, Orozco said the 2012 campaign was about a longer strategy.

“It’s not about partisanship. It’s about citizenship,” Orozco said.

Outspent more than 10 to one, and with GOP voter registrations swamping Democratic numbers in the district, Orozco still believes by working with Assemblyman Manuel Perez and congressional candidate Raul Ruiz, he moved the Coachella Valley and Pass cities for future candidates.

“No matter what happens, we’re going to make this a closer district, a smarter district.”


Brian Nestande: ‘No sense in guessing’

Assemblyman Brian Nestande is running for re-election in a district that gives Republicans a strong advantage in terms of voter registration.

But the Palm Desert Republican — who is seeking his third, two-year, term — isn’t making any predictions about his contest with Democratic challenger Mark Orozco.

“No sense in guessing,” Nestande said when we asked how he felt about tonight’s election.

“I ran on my record. … Hopefully, people trust my judgement and agree with my decisions.”

He promised to share more, but only after results are posted.

Nestande tries to revive stalled education plan

Assemblyman Brian Nestande is on a tour of local school districts, sharing his plans for Assembly Constitutional Amendment 29.

The amendment would prohibit state lawmakers from deferring payments to California’s schools.

Nestande kicked off the sales pitch earlier this month by addressing Palm Springs Unified school board.

The Palm Desert Republican will be at Desert Sands Unified’s board meeting on Oct. 16.

It’s not clear exactly how much good this tour will do: Nestande’s introduced the amendment in May and it has yet to be taken up by any committee.

Ballotpedia: California has country’s most competitive state races

California has the most competitive state races in the country, according to an analysis released by Ballotpedia today.

The third annual State Legislative Electoral Competiveness Index looks at whether an incumbent is running for re-election; whether that incumbent had a primary election challenge; and whether there are two major party candidates in the general election showdown.

The Ballotpedia analysis found California’s incumbents will face a primary opponent in nearly 36 percent of the races.

In the Coachella Valley, voters will weigh in on two state races this year:

– In the new 42nd Assembly District, Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande faces Democrat Mark Orozco, a Beaumont Unified school board member.

– Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez faces Republican Corky Reynaga-Emett, an insurance broker from Indio.

Not one of the candidates had a primary election opponent.

Nationwide, Ballotpedia found Michigan, New Hampshire, Idaho and Nebraska round out the top 5 list of competitive state elections. The least competitive races were found in Massachusetts, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Protest planned over Nestande’s budget vote

Assembly members Brian Nestande and V. Manuel Perez are bound to earn some brownie points with locals for their legislative efforts to open the Bump and Grind.

But that hasn’t stopped Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, from being targeted by a handful of community groups.

The California Partnership, Veterans for Peace, Occupy Coachella Valley will join Colelge of the Desert students and local health advocates to protest outside of Nestande’s Palm Desert office on Wednesday.

They’re upset that Republicans like Nestande refused to back the majority-backed budget plan. A press release announcing the protest also blasted Nestande for sending his constituents a “budget fact sheet” that Republicans were circulating before the June 15 vote.

“This email said that the nearly $8 billion dollars of cuts to core health and human service programs that serve the neediest and most vulnerable in our state were not enough,” the protesters said in a news release.

“Instead, he called for even further systemic and structural cuts that would essentially dismantle the infrastructure of the public safety net. Furthermore, this email directly targets seniors, people with disabilities, poor children and families by saying that the devastating cuts to programs that serve them should be cut even more.”

Wednesday’s protest starts at noon at 73710 Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert.

In case you missed it, Nestande had this to say after the June 15 vote:

“While Democrats lauded the swift passage of what they called a budget that brings California closer to fiscal solvency, this budget is the product of back door deals, accounting schemes, and does absolutely nothing to help dig California out of the financial hole that we are in.  This budget increases spending, does nothing to protect education funding,” Nestande said in a statement.

“This budget contains no spending reforms whatsoever.  We can no longer afford these budget gimmicks when dealing with the financial future and welfare of our state.  We must put education first and reduce government spending.  We must create a strong business environment by streamlining the regulatory process and improving our tax code to encourage more investment in business, thereby bringing jobs back to California.”

Orozco: Fellow Democrats ‘sided with big developers’ instead of consitutents

Democratic Assembly candidate Mark Orozco voiced opposition this week to Assembly Bill 317, which would exempt mobile homes that are not the owner’s sole residence from rent control.

The bill was actually authored by a fellow Democrat, Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon.

But Orozco argues that, in this tough economy, there is “no justification” that his party leadership in the Assembly would support such a bill.

“The only conclusion that I can draw is that some Assembly members, from both sides of the aisle, rather than voting for the interest of their constituents that elected them, they instead sided with big developers that most likely funded their campaigns,” Orozco said in a statement.

“As the old saying goes, ‘just follow the money.”

It will be interesting to see how his strong words impacts the endorsements and support he gets from Sacramento Democrats.

AB 317 now awaits a committee hearing in the Senate.

For the record, Assemblyman Brian Nestande — the Palm Desert Republican who Orozco is challenging in the new 42nd Assembly District — voted in favor of the bill.

Ballot designations get certified

The California Secretary of State’s office has certified the list of primary election candidates and their official designations on the June 5 ballot.

In other parts of California, incumbents have tried to downplay their government ties by instead describing themselves as business leaders.  But the certified list shows that the desert’s incumbents are not shying away from their legislative experience.

Here’s what Coachella Valley residents will see when they vote in the three key legislative races:

36th Congressional District: Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack is listed as “U.S. representative” and Democrat Raul Ruiz is listed as “emergency room doctor.”

42nd Assembly District: Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande is listed as “lawmaker/ businessman” and Democrat Mark Orozco is listed as “educator/ school boardmember.”

56th Assembly District: Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez is listed as “Assemblymember” and Republican Corky Reynaga Emett is listed as “business woman.”