Congress less popular than root canals, NFL replacement refs, even Nickelback

It appears the American people are turned off by political bickering and one partisan showdown after another in Washington, D.C.

A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows just how deep in the muck Congress has sunk. A survey of more than 830 American voters earlier this week shows that voters have a higher opinion about the following over Congress:

  • Root canals (56 percent favoring root canals, 32 percent Congress)
  • NFL replacement referees (56-29)
  • Head lice (67-19)
  • The rock band Nickelback (39-32 — close call)
  • Colonoscopies (58-31)
  • Carnies (39-31)
  • Traffic jams (56-34)
  • Cockroaches (45-43)
  • Donald Trump (44-42)
  • France (46-37)
  • Genghis Khan (41-37)
  • Used-car salesmen (57-32)
  • Brussels sprouts (69-23)

In lawmakers’ defense, survey respondents did rate them higher than:

  • Telemarketers (45-35)
  • John Edwards (45-29)
  • The Kardashians (49-36)
  • Lobbyists (48-30)
  • North Korea (61-26)
  • The Ebola virus (53-25)
    Lindsay Lohan (45-41)
  • Fidel Castro (54-32)
  • Playground bullies (43-38)
  • Meth labs (60-21)
  • Communism (57-23)
  • Gonorrhea (53-28).

“We all know Congress is unpopular,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy
Polling, in a release. “But the fact that voters like it even less than cockroaches, lice, and Genghis Khan really shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public over the last few weeks.”

For a deeper breakdown on the survey results, click the PDF link below:


Raul Ruiz: Congressional office ready; NPR profiles freshman congressman

Incoming Rep. Raul Ruiz's Congressional office, as seen Wednesday (photo submitted by Greg Rodriguez)

On the eve of Dr. Raul Ruiz swearing into Congress, his office — and his plaque — are ready for showtime.

This photograph outside his new office, 1319 Longworth Building, circulated on Facebook today.

Ruiz will take the oath of office Thursday as a freshman member of the 113th Congress. It will mark the first time since 1998 that the Coachella Valley is represented by a new lawmaker in Washington.

Over the weekend, NPR’s Weekend Edition profiled Ruiz as part of a series of profiles of “the most diverse (freshman class) in congressional history.”

The four-minute segment that aired Saturday focuses primarily on Ruiz’s busy schedule and his life story.

“Ruiz’s personality — upbeat and inclusive — earned him voter approval across ethnic lines, and it didn’t hurt that he had a life story that resonated with an electorate that was growing more diverse each year,”  NPR’s Karen Grisby Bates said.

She summed up the race between Ruiz and outgoing Rep. Mary Bono Mack: “It was a nasty campaign.”

NPR also played audio from the only debate of the season, which was co-hosted Oct. 12 by The Desert Sun.

“Raul Ruiz says it pains him to leave his patients and community, but although he’s off to Congress he’s not giving up medicine completely,” she said. “He’s already making plans to volunteer in physician-short parts of DC in his spare time. How much of that he’ll have, though, is anybody’s guess.”

The audio and transcript are available here.

Barbara Boxer and Raul Ruiz meet with Army Corps over Salton Sea

Salton SeaSen. Barbara Boxer and the Coachella Valley’s incoming congressman, Raul Ruiz, met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday to discuss the Salton Sea.

The Democrats met with Ms. Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), to discuss what should be done now and in the future to restore and preserve the inland sea, according to a release from Boxer’s office.

They also “explained the need to prevent the sea from turning into a public health emergency that would have ramifications for the Imperial and Coachella Valleys,” according to the release.

Boxer is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Ruiz is in Washington for a second week of orientation for newly elected members of Congress.

Boxer is mentoring Ruiz, an emergency room physician who has never held elective office. He upset longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack earlier this month.

-Raju Chebium, Gannett Washington Bureau

Raul Ruiz shares first impressions of Washington

Congressman-elect Raul Ruiz is in Washington this week as part of the 113th Congress’ freshmen orientation.

Our Washington colleague, Raju Chebium, had a chance to catch up with the Palm Desert Democrat, who says he sees “great opportunity here to really get to work.”

Rep. Mary Bono Mack all but concedes to Dr. Raul Ruiz in congressional race

Rep. Mary Bono Mack has all but conceded her heated race for a congressional seat, telling The Desert Sun she thinks Dr. Raul Ruiz will win.

“Historically speaking, he will win,” the Republican incumbent told The Desert Sun’s Erica Felci. “I suppose it’s too early to say, but historically, the trends would say the numbers will continue to go the way they’re going.”

VIDEO: Mary Bono Mack all but concedes

ELECTION RESULTS: Local & California

Ruiz took a slim lead (50.37% with 57,202 votes) over Bono Mack (49.63% with 56,327 votes) in the latest tally from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters. That is about 39.7 percent of votes counted.

Bono Mack said around 12:30 a.m. that she wasn’t sure if she was staying up to watch any more tallies.

“The results of the country were not what I wanted,” she told The Desert Sun.

It was far too early to tell if they would call for a recount, Bono Mack and her aides said. Any such recount would have to be called after the final results are in.

Bono Mack said she would not be making any calls to Ruiz tonight, but would reassess her next steps “tomorrow, under the light of day.”

“I think Dr. Ruiz ran a spirited, good campaign.”

Bono Mack is running for her eighth full term.

Mary Bono Mack, Raul Ruiz campaign spokesmen trade barbs on Twitter

Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign called reporters today, inviting them to Fairfield Inn in Palm Desert. They played audio of what they say is Democratic challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz reading a letter of support in 1999 for a man convicted of murdering two FBI agents.

Moments after The Desert Sun posted the story, we noticed John Pezzullo (a campaign manager for Bono Mack) and Patrick Boland (a spokesman for Ruiz) take their candidates’ campaign battle to Twitter:


Here’s a rundown of what’s happened in the Congressional election in the last two weeks:

Sunday, Oct. 7: Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign contacts The Desert Sun with an eight-page document that outlines the Thanksgiving 1997 protests and Dr. Raul Ruiz’s arrest. Read more here.

Friday, Oct. 12: Bono Mack and Ruiz face off in their only debate of the campaign, and Bono Mack repeatedly brings up his participation in the protest, calling it un-American. Read more here.

Thursday, Oct. 18: The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians censures Bono Mack, calling her remarks “an outrageous and unacceptable insult to all Native Americans.” Read more here.

Thursday, Oct. 18: Bono Mack’s campaign team releases audio that they say is Ruiz reading a letter of support in 1999 for Leonard Peltier, a Native American convicted of murdering two FBI agents. Read more here.

The election is Nov. 6.

* Edited with an updated photo that reflects the continued Twitter exchange.