National parties pump money into 36th

The National Republican Congressional Committee today unveiled a new television ad that targets Democrat Raul Ruiz.

The NRCC’s $600,000 ad buy comes just one day after federally required finance reports revealed Ruiz’s fundraising significantly outpaced Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s in the last quarter.

Between July 1 and Sept. 30, Ruiz raised almost $545,000 – a new record for local Democrats — and bested the nearly $387,000 that Bono Mack received.

National Republicans haven’t traditionally had to invest in Bono Mack’s race, where the Palm Springs Republican incumbent has usually maintained a strong fundraising lead.

The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent almost $520,000 on ads in this race to help the emergency room physician from Palm Desert. More than $20,000 of that was in donations that were reported through Ruiz’s campaign.

Coachella Valley builders look to invest in campaigns

It’s been a rough few years for the Coachella Valley’s building industry.

But in a sign that developers are turning a corner financially, the Desert Valley Builders Association has formed a political action committee.

The Coachella-Imperial Valleys Strategies PAC has the go-ahead from the California Secretary of State’s office and will have its first fundraising event later this month.

It’s not yet clear what races the local builders will target. The PAC is created in a way that it can campaign for state and local candidates and ballot measures.

Detailed look at fundraising in the 36th

In case you missed it, campaign finance reports filed last week show Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack raised $501,000 during the second quarter.

By contrast, Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, raised $371,000 between April 1 and June 30.

Want to take a deeper look at how they raised the funds?

My colleague Keith Matheny has compiled finance reports from both candidates and turned them into easy-to-follow PDFs.

You can check them out here:

Mary Bono Mack – 2nd quarter itemiezed contributions

Raul Ruiz – 2nd quarter itemized contributions

See something interesting? Let us know.

Bono Mack to address GOP donors at Romney’s Utah retreat

Rep. Mary Bono Mack will address top Republican donors who are gathering in Utah this weekend for a retreat with presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Invitations to the event were extended to donors who have raised $50,000 or more for Romney’s White House bid, according to media reports.

The Desert Sun has learned that Bono Mack is one of five members of the House who are scheduled to speak. A handful of U.S. senators and governors are also on the agenda.

Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican, will be leading a Saturday discussion on energy issues. She sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

When asked about the retreat, Bono Mack’s spokesman Ken Johnson said she was invited about a week ago.

“Congresswoman Bono Mack is looking forward to a wide-ranging discussion about critically important policy issues facing the  nation,” Johnson told The Desert Sun.

“The congresswoman firmly believes by expanding domestic energy production, we can create tens of thousands of jobs nationwide and help revive America’s beleaguered manufacturing sector.”

This is not the first time Bono Mack has played a notable role in Romney’s campaign.

She and her husband, Republican Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, in January joined the presidential campaign trail in order to sway Floridians’ vote. She also discussed women’s issues on a national conference call with reporters.

Bono Mack will be back in the Coachella Valley on Sunday, when she is expected to meet with supporters of her own re-election campaign. Bono Mack faces Democrat Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, in the battle for the 36th Congressional seat.

Ruiz getting national fundraising help

Democratic congressional candidate Raul Ruiz is hitting the campaign trail this weekend with a little help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, who is a co-chair of the DCCC Red-to-Blue program, will headline a fundraising luncheon at noon Saturday at the Democratic Headquarters of the Desert, located in Cathedral City.

The event is billed as the first event of the general election campaign.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, is trying to unseat Rep. Mary Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican campaigning for her eighth term.

National Democrats consider the new 36th Congressional seat, which includes the entire Coachella Valley, a chance to pick up another seat in their effort to regain control of the House.

Ruiz was named to the Red-to-Blue program earlier this year. The fundraising tactic allows key candidates to tap national Democratic donors.

County takes another look at campaign funding disclosure

Riverside County supervisors on Tuesday will take another look at the electronic disclosure requirements they imposed on campaigns last year.

The rules were introduced by Supervisor John Benoit, who wanted to ensure that any county candidate who raises more than $5,000 files their fundraising report in an electronic format.

Supporters said the idea would saved time for county employees, who no longer had to process actual paper. And it would make it easier for the general public to track who is giving money to different candidates and campaigns.

Benoit is now asking his colleagues to review some “technical amendments,” saying in a staff report that “campaign treasurers alerted us to the fact that language in the ordinance exceeded state electronic reporting requirements.”

You can read Benoit’s report here.

If county supervisors give the green light Tuesday — and there’s no reason to think anyone would object to cleaning up the books — the Registrar of Voters and county counsel will formally draft the amendments and bring them back to supervisors for another vote.

Primary candidates building campaign warchests

This week, state and local candidates on the primary ballot had to report how much the amount of money they raised and spent between Jan. 1 and March 17.

The money raised includes both donations and any loans.

Here’s a roundup of the latest fundraising:


Incumbent Brian Nestande: The Palm Desert Republican raised $23,400, spent $40,699 and has $88,177 in cash on hand.

Challenger Mark Orozco: The Beaumont Democrat raised $17,822, spent $3,855 and has $19,363 in cash on hand.


Incumbent V. Manuel Pérez: The Coachella Democrat raised $58,305, spent $57,061 and has $155,935 in cash on hand.

Challenger Corky Reynaga-Emett: Fundraising details for the Indio Republican was not available on the California Secretary of State’s website today.


Incumbent Victoria Cameron raised $28,425, spent $19,933 and has $9,087 in cash on hand.

Challenger Tom Eckhardt has formed a campaign committee but fundraising details were not available on the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ website today.


Incumbent James Cox loaned himself $50,000, spent $18,800 and has $31,202 in cash on hand.

Challenger Michael Kennedy has not yet formed a campaign committee, according to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ website.


Incumbent Craig Riemer raised $19,448, spent $26,431 and has $68,356 in cash on hand.

Challenger John Henry raised $73,701, spent $56,558 and has $83,411 in cash on hand.


Incumbent Gary Tranbarger raised $31,700, spent $19,726 and has $11,977 in cash on hand.

Challenger Richard Nixon raised $31,988, spent $17,439 and has $14,549 in cash on hand.

The candidates in the 36th Congressional race — Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack and her Democratic challenger, Dr. Raul Ruiz — have until mid-April to release their next fundraising reports.

Santorum’s desert visit results in few local donations

When Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum quietly campaigned in the desert last month, it doesn’t appear he was courting many local donors.

During the entire month of February, the former senator from Pennsylvania received $6,675 in itemized donations from people with a Coachella Valley address, according to fundraising reports filed this week.

Santorum maintained a low profile during his two-day desert stop, including a private Feb. 12 fundraiser at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells.

Officials did not reveal who hosted that fundraiser or who attended. But judging from the reports, the guests may have been from out of town or they have a non-desert home as their primary address.

Early look at Ruiz’s fundraising efforts

Democrat Raul Ruiz raised $152,266 raised during the last three months of 2011.

After expenses, the emergency room physician will have $172,616 in the bank for his campaign against Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

The campaign doesn’t have to file a quarterly fundraising report until Jan. 31. But Ruiz’s campaign manager, Tizoc DeAztlan, gave The Desert Sun a heads-up of the fundraising figures today.

DeAztlan did not share information about who was donating to the campaign or how the campaign was spending its money, saying it would be revealed when the paperwork is filed.

Ruiz’s fundraising outpaced Bono Mack’s last Democratic challenger, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, who raised $150,136 in the same quarter during the 2010 campaign.

But in terms of cash on hand, Ruiz still lags behind the $402,314 that Pougnet had saved up by this point.

“It shows an overwhelming amount of support,” DeAztlan said.

Because of redistricting, the new 36th Congressional District doesn’t include the pricey Los Angeles-based media market.

“We’re going to raise enough to communicate with the voters,” DeAztlan said. “It takes real money to make this happen. But it’s going to cost less than it has in the past.”

Bono Mack’s campaign hasn’t released her latest fundraising figures yet. By the end of September, the incumbent had $436,568 in cash on hand.

In an interview earlier today, Bono Mack expressed confidence in her campaign team.

“I think the campaign is going very well,” she told The Desert Sun. “I believe if I do my job well in D.C., the campaign will take care of itself. … I am confident we will have the funds to win this race.”

For  more on the fundraising effort, check out Sunday’s Political Insider column.