Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Speculation on new jobs for former members of Congress

Berman

Grant Slater/KPCC

Democratic Representative Howard Berman leaves office next month. He's rumored to be headed back to Sacramento where he once served in the legislature. But Berman won't say what his plans are.

The new year is a time for new beginnings – no more so than for more than a dozen former California members of Congress. Some have new jobs nailed down, but for the rest: let the speculation begin!

Democrat Bob Filner already started his new job. The former Congressman resigned the day he was sworn in as the new mayor of San Diego.

Palm Springs Republican Mary Bono Mack is still on the clock until Congress officially adjourns. Rumors abound that she’ll join her husband Connie Mack, who lost his bid for Senate from Florida, on cable TV. The pair has shown up nearly half a dozen times on CNN in recent weeks.

Some political watchers think longtime Sherman Oaks Democrat Howard Berman is the perfect man to return to state politics, perhaps becoming the Assembly’s new speaker. Berman, who served 30 years in Congress and another decade in Sacramento, was amused.

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GOP incumbents officially defeated in 3 close Congressional races (map)

Democrat Raul Ruiz unseated Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district that includes Palm Springs.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Californians cast their ballots, but it finally looks as though all 53 of the state’s Congressional races have winners, including three races that had been too close to call.  

All three races went to Democratic challengers.  California’s Secretary of State says absentee and provisional ballots have put emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz more than 7,800 votes ahead of Palm Springs incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.

Another physician, Sacramento’s Ami Bera, defeated 17-year incumbent Dan Lungren by 5,600 votes. Bera isn’t surprised Californians voted out the incumbents. He says there's "a real sense of frustration with this last Congress and their inability to address the issues that face our nation." 

Down in San Diego, incumbent GOP Congressman Brian Bilbray has conceded to port commissioner Scott Peters, who is more than 5,000 votes ahead.

The results mean California's Republican delegation has shrunk from 19 members to 15.

Officially, the races won’t be certified until mid-December. But all three Democrats will return to Washington next week for round two of freshman orientation. 

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Redistricting shakes up California's Congressional races; Bono Mack trailing

U.S. Capitol Building

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The story of this year’s California Congressional races is — surprise! — money: money from the parties, money from PACs (including one started by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg), money from siblings, and money from the candidates themselves.

36th Congressional District — Coachella Valley:

In an apparent upset, Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack is losing to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Bono Mack was a prime target for Democrats. Ruiz is an emergency room doctor. Both parties poured in the money, flooding both the Palm Springs and LA TV market with political ads.  Bono Mack's husband Connie Mack gave up his House seat to run for the US Senate in Florida. He lost.

RUIZ: 51.4%; BONO MACK 48.6%

35th Congressional District — Chino

N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped $2.5 million of PAC money into Democratic State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod’s campaign to defeat veteran Democratic Congressman Joe Baca. The Congressional baseball team loses its star pitcher. It was a bad night for the Baca family as well; the Congressman's son Joe, Jr. lost his race for the state assembly. 

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CA Congressional races to watch Tuesday night

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The bitter intra-party contest between Democrats Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman is just one of many California Congressional races to watch on election night.

California's citizen-drawn redistricing plan has done its job, shaking up the political establishment in the state's 53 Congressional districts. The state's top-two rule has created half-a-dozen races with candidates from the same party facing off Tuesday.

RACES TO WATCH IN OUR AREA:

36th Congressional District — Coachella Valley:

Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack faces emergency room physician, Democrat Raul Ruiz. The Democrats' Congressional PAC has targeted this race. The GOP is pouring money in as well. As of mid-October, the two sides had raised more than $2.5 million, outside of PAC money. The redrawn district has a slight majority of Republicans, but a lot of independent voters as well, and a large Latino population. The race has turned nasty, with accusations of tax evasion on one side and radical politics on the other. The Cook Political Report says the race is too close to call.

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Ads for Palm Springs Congressional race flood LA airwaves

Raul Ruiz and Mary Bono-Mack

KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack and her Democratic opponent, Raul Ruiz, have been buying ad time in both the Palm Springs and L.A. TV markets.

Seen enough political ads? The glut has been added to by a Congressional candidate who is running TV spots in L.A. — far away from her Coachella Valley district. 

You’d expect ads from Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack to show up on TV stations in Palm Springs — the heart of her district. But they’re also showing up on L.A. stations, where the cost of a commercial is anywhere from five to ten times as expensive.

Alison Hendrix, general sales manager at Palm Springs station KMIR, says this has been the busiest — and most expensive — political ad season in her memory.  But she says her station didn't sell all its available airtime. TV stations, Hendrix says, are "like the airline industry" —  there's always a spot available for someone willing to pay the price.

But the Bono Mack campaign decided to spend their extra money on TV ads in L.A.

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