Mary Bono Mack: Legislative career ‘an experience of a lifetime’

Rep. Mary Bono Mack issued some parting words today as she reflected on her final days in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Palm Springs Republican — who has been spotted on CNN but hasn’t given any local interviews since she was defeated in the Nov. 6 election —  issued the statement as part of a news release that touted the reauthorization of the U.S. SAFE WEB Act.

Her comments come after a lengthy description of her 14-year legislative career, including the creation of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Mountains Monument.

Here are her comments in full:

“As I prepare to leave Congress after more than 14 terrific years, I remain very optimistic about the future of America. Admittedly, we face some daunting challenges as a nation in the months and years ahead.  But the true greatness of America is measured by the things that unite us, not divide us.

“We are a people bound by enduring ideals and principles, which are embedded in an unshakable belief in truth, justice, opportunity and freedom for all.

“Despite the many challenges we are facing today, I continue to believe that our best years are ahead of us, because ours is a nation which values courage, compassion and character and stands united – and undeterred – as freedom’s greatest ally around the world.  It has been my extraordinary honor and great privilege to serve in the United States House of Representatives since 1998, and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished.

“So today, looking back on my eight terms in Congress, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes: ‘Don’t be sad that it’s over.  Be happy that it happened.’  As we approach this joyous holiday season, I have much to be thankful for and happy about.  This truly has been an experience of a lifetime.”

Bono Mack lost the election to Democrat Raul Ruiz.

She has not yet announced what she’ll do come January, although she does plan on attending the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Her husband, Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, also lost his U.S. Senate bid. But her daughter’s family — including infant grandson Sonny — live in the Washington area.

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 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

Can you spot Raul Ruiz?

In a little bit of Friday fun, we decided to offer you the congressional version of “Where’s Waldo.”

The Associated Press snapped a few images from the east steps of the Capitol Thursday, where the incoming House freshmen of the 113th Congress posed for a group photo.

Can you spot the valley’s incoming congressman, Democrat Raul Ruiz?

Spoiler alert if you can’t find him: Ruiz is standing near the corner of the top landing, wearing a suit and blue shirt.

MORE PHOTOS: Congressional freshman orientation

Mary Bono Mack calls for end to ‘politics of divisiveness’

Rep. Mary Bono Mack says it is “very unfortunate” that Americans are divided into subsets and is calling for national unity.

“I think what’s very important right now is that we heal as a country,” the Palm Springs Republican said during an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan last night. “You know, this politics of divisiveness is really something the American people are rejecting.”

Bono Mack is currently finishing out her final term in the House.

After a 14-month campaign that sharply divided the Coachella Valley, Bono Mack was defeated in the Nov. 6 election by Democrat Raul Ruiz. He is in Washington this week for freshmen orientation.

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.”

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.