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.

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.”

Mary Bono Mack’s full statement on concession to Raul Ruiz

Mary Bono Mack spoke to The Desert Sun after polls closed. (Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun)

Rep. Mary Bono Mack posted the following message on her Facebook page about 6:30 p.m. Friday.

That was about an hour after the most recent voting results showed that Dr. Raul Ruiz widened the lead over her in her race for reelection to Congressional District 36:


Dear friends,

Thank you for giving me the distinct honor of serving in the United States House of Representatives for 14 years. Today, I called Dr. Ruiz and congratulated him on his impressive victory. Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed.

After 25 years of public life in the beautiful desert, it is now time for me to start a new chapter in my life. My family and I are very excited about the prospect. It was almost 15 years ago that Sonny died and I became a Congresswoman. Honestly, nobody worked harder or gave more since then than my two amazing children. They, along with my stepson Chaz, my grandson Sonny and my beloved husband Connie have been so supportive of me this week. I simply couldn’t ask for more.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.With love to all and may God continue to bless the United States of America,Mary


See Dr. Raul Ruiz’s victory statement here.

Raul Ruiz bursts ahead of Rep. Mary Bono Mack in latest election tallies

Dr. Raul Ruiz speaks Tuesday during a results watching party. (Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun)


Challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz surged ahead in his race for the 36th Congressional District in the latest tally released Friday evening.

He now leads by 7,268 votes over the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Ruiz has 94,633 votes (52%) to her 87,365 (48%).

The Republican incumbent flew out of Palm Springs on Friday afternoon amid a national report she had conceded.

See the statement Mary Bono Mack issued about one hour after the results.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has now counted 559,089 votes countywide since polls closed late Tuesday.

It still has about 123,000 ballots to count — or about 18 percent of the vote. The uncounted ballots are 49,500 of vote-by-mail ballots left to count, as well as 60,000 provisional and 13,500 damaged ones.

The registrar has not been able to say how many of those votes could count toward the Congressional race.

The next update will be released at 6 p.m. Saturday.

In other close Coachella Valley races, challenger Chip Yarborough now leads Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa by 208 votes.

None of the leaders in valley races changed with the latest round of updates.


Registrar prioritizes Raul Ruiz, Mary Bono Mack ballots for next results update

As the Riverside County Registrar of Voters prepares to release updated results today, poll workers will prioritize ballots cast in the 36th Congressional race.

About 22,000 vote-by-mail ballots had been scanned into the ballot counting machines by about 2 p.m. Friday, Registrar Kari Verjil said.

“That number will keep continuing to increase because we’ve got a few more hours,” Verjil said.

The results of those 22,000 ballots — and the undetermined number of other ballots that will be scanned in the next few hours —will be released about 6 p.m.

The registrar has 140,000 ballots left to count, or 20.5 percent of the vote left to count. That includes 64,000 vote-by-mail, 60,000 provisional and 18,000 damaged.

After sorting ballots by precincts, the poll workers have prioritized today sending through ballots that come from precincts in the 36th Congressional District.

“We are focusing on that race because we know how much interest there is,” Verjil said.

Challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz leads the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack by 4,679 votes, or 2.82 percentage points, in his campaign for the 36th Congressional District seat.

In the Cathedral City mayoral race, challenger Chip Yarborough maintains his lead over incumbent Mayor Kathy DeRosa. He now leads by 185 votes.


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 campaign ad makes unexpected TV star out of officer

When Rep. Mary Bono Mack released her latest campaign ad Friday, it made an unexpected TV star out of one valley officer.

The ad shows clips of law enforcement from across the valley and state speaking during a press conference outside the Palm Springs Police Department on Monday.

Palm Springs Police Officers’ Association President (Sgt.) William Hutchinson, who’s one of two people featured in the TV commercial, said he was caught off guard by appearing in a campaign ad — and told the Bono Mack campaign so in an email Friday.

“I understand it, but I would have liked to have had a call, at least, to get a heads up,” he told us.

Hutchinson insisted the only aim of the officers — who have not endorsed either candidate in the tight Congressional race — is to have their message heard and their questions answered.

“This is not a coordinated effort between Mary Bono Mack’s campaign and law enforcement,” he said. “This is law enforcement’s voice, and she is using it for her own agenda.”

Neither campaign responded to email inquiries Friday or Saturday about the press conference. Candidates usually send cameramen to events on both sides.

Dr. Raul Ruiz spokesman Patrick Boland has blocked this Desert Sun reporter’s Twitter account from following his account, so I could not send him a direct message to inquire that way.