Palm Desert race still close in latest election results

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters just posted another update of election results, and it appears Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen has widened his lead slightly.

Kroonen now has a 47-vote advantage over challenger Susan Marie Weber. But roughly 1,300 provisional ballots remain uncounted in the valley’s closest race, according to Registrar Kari Verjil.

In Cathedral City, mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough’s lead over incumbent Kathy De Rosa has narrowed from 201 votes to 180 votes.

And in the 36th Congressional contest, Democrat Raul Ruiz widened his lead to 7,827 votes. Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack has already conceded the race.

Another 60,000 provisional ballots and 9,000 damaged ballots remain uncounted countywide. The next update will be released Friday evening.

The updated results for key desert races are here:

Palm Desert council: (top three win)

Mayor Bob Spiegel: 8,394 votes or 22.43 percent

Van Tanner: 7,799 votes or 20.84 percent

Kroonen: 5,950 votes or 15.90 percent

Weber: 5,903 votes or 15.77 percent

Aurora Wilson: 5,583 votes or 14.92 percent

Ron Moers: 2,352 votes or 6.28 percent

Terry Wood: 1,450 votes or 3.87 percent

Cathedral City:

DeRosa: 5,233 votes or 45.75 percent

John David Kauffman: 792 votes or 6.92 percent

Yarborough: 5,413 votes or 47.32 percent

36th Congressional:

Ruiz: 100,732 votes or 52.02 percent

Bono Mack: 92,905 or 47.98 percent

Peltier case continues to attract local interest

As part of a month-long free movie series, the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage is hosting two free showings of a Leonard Peltier documentary.

Peltier’s case became a polarizing talking point on the 36th Congressional campaign trail after audio surfaced of Democrat Raul Ruiz expressed solidarity with the imprisoned American Indian activist. Ruiz made the comments in the late 1990s, while the then-Harvard medical student participated in protests.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician, went on to defeat Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack in last week’s election.

Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents.

The 90-minute documentary, “Incident at Oglala” will be shown at 10 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Tolerance Education Center.

Information (760) 328-8252

Raul Ruiz adds yogurt flavor to accolades

It’s quite common for restaurants to name a menu option in honor of a local celebrity.

And it didn’t take long for the valley’s new congressman, Democrat Raul Ruiz, to join those ranks.

Since Wednesday – two full days before Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack formally conceded the race –Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt in Palm Springs has been serving “pomegranate /RUIZ-berry sorbet.”


And in case you’re curious, Ruiz’s flavor is non-fat, non-dairy treat.

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.


Spotted: Mary Bono Mack heads out of the desert

Although her election results aren’t final yet, Rep. Mary Bono Mack has apparently left the desert.

Local interior designer Christopher Kennedy posted on Facebook that he spotted Bono Mack at the American Airlines counter trying to “get a seat on an oversold flight just like I am. “

Kennedy later noted that they were both on board the plane, but did not state the destination.

An American Airlines flight that left Palm Springs International around noon was headed to Dallas, a major hub.

The latest election results from the Riverside County registrar indicate Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican, is being ousted by Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz.

But win or lose, Bono Mack is expected to be back in Washington next week as Congress grapples with the pending fiscal cliff.

Bono Mack’s aides have not responded to requests for comment since issuing a statement Wednesday afternoon that said they wouldn’t discuss the race until it was finalized.

More election results are expected this evening.

Raul Ruiz campaign: ‘We will maintain our lead’

While Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign maintains its silence, aides to Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz are reassuring their supporters that they were victorious.

“We are confident that when the remaining vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted we will maintain our lead and win this election,” campaign manager Kyle Layman said in a statement to supporters late Thursday.

“Tonight, almost 4,000 additional ballots were counted, and our lead expanded by 122 votes.”

Ruiz had trailed Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican, in initial returns Tuesday night. But with each new round of results, Ruiz has gained momentum.

The latest tally for the 36th Congressional race, released Thursday evening, shows the Palm Desert physician has a 4,679-vote lead over the incumbent.

The Riverside County registrar is expected to release more results this evening.

“Our campaign will keep you updated as we receive more information,” Layman told supporters in the email. ”Thank you for making this victory possible.”

Chaz Bono issues support for Mary Bono Mack’s ‘next life chapter’

Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Chaz Bono arrive at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 21, 2012 in Los Angeles. (Jason Merritt, Getty Images for GLAAD)

Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Chaz Bono at the GLAAD Media Awards on April 21 in Los Angeles. (Jason Merritt, Getty Images for GLAAD)

Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack is holding off on issuing any more comments about her apparent election loss, but her stepson Chaz Bono is ready to call the results final.

“Thank you @MaryBonoMack for 14 years of loving service to my 2nd home,” Bono tweeted this afternoon.

“I love you, and am proud 2 stand with you in your next life chapter.”

Bono Mack is trailing Democrat Raul Ruiz by 4,557 votes, according to the latest tally by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.

The county is still processing 183,000 ballots countywide, including an unknown number in the 36th race.

Bono Mack — a Palm Springs Republican who was married to Bono’s late father, entertainer-turned-politician Sonny Bono – initially told The Desert Sun that trends indicated Ruiz “will win” the race.

But by Wednesday afternoon, her aides released a statement that said it was “premature” to consider the results final.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, says he is confident that he has won the contentious campaign.

More election results are expected this evening.

Democrats continue victory lap in 36th race

Although an untold number of ballots remain to be counted, national Democrats aren’t holding back from sharing their excitement that Raul Ruiz is on his way to victory in the 36th Congressional seat.

“Raul Ruiz is the right guy for California’s 36th District and understands the needs of the community and his constituents better than (Republican Mary) Bono Mack,” Jim Dean, Democracy for America chairman Jim Dean said in a statement.

“He’s seen firsthand how broken and backward our healthcare system is and why our communities need strong solutions to turn this country around.  We’re honored to have been such an early supporter of Ruiz’s campaign and look forward to working with him in Washington.  Congratulations to a candidate who brings a true progressive voice to Coachella Valley.”

Democracy for America was one of several national organizations that rallied behind Ruiz’s campaign, raising more than $43,400 and commissioning polls throughout the election season.

House Majority PAC, which spent $330,000 on television ads and mailers, also issued their congratulations.

“Riverside County and the Coachella Valley will benefit from Raul Ruiz’s commitment to fight for the middle class, to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security and to create jobs,” PAC executive director Alixandria Lapp said in a statement.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician from Palm Desert, has a 4,557 vote lead over Bono Mack, who was first elected in 1998.

Roughly 183,000 ballots need to be counted countywide, but it is not yet known how many of those are from the 36th Congressional race.

Based on previous elections, experts say the remaining ballots should follow the election night trends, where Ruiz closed Bono Mack’s initial lead and then continued to widen the margin of victory.