Politics, government and public life for Southern California

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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Battle of political ads amps up in Palm Springs Congressional race

What's a campaign to do when the race is getting tight and you've got money to spend in a California media market that's somewhat affordable? Start running lots of negative ads.

Two new spots have just hit the airwaves in the Coachella Valley Congressional race between Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack and her Democratic challenger, Dr. Raul Ruiz.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic political action committee, is running a week's worth of TV ads in the Palm Springs market, aimed at Mack. She's married to a fellow member of Congress from Florida (and U.S. Senate candidate), Connie Mack. The ad accuses her of forgetting about the Coachella Valley and taking advantage of a tax exemption for Florida residents.

On the tax exemption charge, the Bono Mack campaign points to an article in the Tampa Bay Times' fact-checking operation, PolitiFact. The charge stems from the unusual marital geography of Bono Mack and her husband. Both own homes in their own states. Both claim homestead exemptions, which translate into a tax break. You're only allowed one per household, but since both file taxes separately and hold title to their respective residences in their own name, the local Florida county appraiser's office gave his blessing to the exemption.

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Bill Clinton traveling to Irvine to boost CA Democratic Congressional candidates

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton recently spoke at an event at Florida International University in Miami.

Bill Clinton is visiting Orange County Tuesday. The former President is lending some star power to a quintet of lesser known Democrats who'd like to become members of the US House of Representatives.

Democrats know that if they want a shot at taking back the House, they have to pick up more than two dozen seats around the country.  Redistricting has made California ground zero for turning red to blue.

To help out, Clinton will be the headliner at a UC Irvine rally called "California's Voice."

He'll be there to boost candidates in five of the toughest House races in California.  Three are running for open seats: Julia Brownley in Ventura,  Alan Lowenthal in Long Beach, and Mark Takano in Riverside. Two others are taking on GOP incumbents: Scott Peters in San Diego, and Raul Ruiz in Palm Springs.

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The sharp knives come out in Bono Mack/Ruiz Congressional race

Raul Ruiz and Mary Bono-Mack

KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Emergency room physician Dr. Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.

The accusations are flying in the Coachella Valley race between Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack and Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz.

Friends of Democracy, a Democratic political action committee, has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, accusing Mack's campaign of illegally steering a donor to a PAC that has raised money on her behalf.

Meanwhile, the Bono Mack side is painting her rival as a leftist revolutionary. The campaign has released a recording from 1999, where at a Plymouth Rock protest, Ruiz reads a letter from Mexico's Zapatista Army for National Liberation in support of Leonard Peltier. 

Peltier is a Native American activist who went to prison more than three decades ago for the murder of FBI agents.

Ruiz — who was a student at Harvard Medical School at the time — objected to the tactic, saying there’s a “difference between disagreeing and character assassination.”

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Follow the money in Palm Springs Congressional race

Raul Ruiz and Mary Bono-Mack

KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.

The Federal Elections Commission just released the latest report on campaign contributions.  It's mind numbing stuff.  But the numbers provide a snapshot of just which industries and individuals are willing to put up big dollars for candidates.

The 36th Congressional district in the Coachella Valley is currently held by eight-term Republican Mary Bono Mack. She's being challenged by a political novice, Democrat Raul Ruiz. Big money is being spent on this race.  So far, more than $3 million has been raised by the two candidates. In this past quarter, Ruiz took in $156,000 more than Bono Mack. 

Because Ruiz is an emergency room doctor, it's not surprising that most of the individual contributors to his campaign are medical professionals — surgeons, dentists, psychiatrists, even a veternarian. He's also gotten money from attorneys, Harvard professors (he's a Harvard grad), and real estate developers. Hollywood is represented: actress Valerie Bertinelli kicked in $2,500. A senior VP at Warner Brothers kicked in another thousand.

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