Parts of the Inland Empire look a lot more "blue" than "red" the day after the presidential election. Areas political observers once considered Republican strongholds gave way to a wave of Democratic newcomers.
Riverside College board trustee Mark Takano wasn’t yet ready to claim victory as early returns showed him outpacing Republican opponent John Tavaglione in the newly- drawn 41st Congressional District.
“So let’s be patient, luxuriate in the feeling we have now and be hopeful that change has come to Riverside,” Takano told supporters at a Riverside crowded union hall Tuesday night.
Within hours, it was clear that TaKano had delivered that change. He’s the first openly gay Asian American ever elected to Congress. Robert Melsh supported Takano in two earlier unsuccessful Congressional bids during the early 1990s - when opponents circulated anti-gay campaign flyers targeting the candidate.
“Third time is the charm and it’s not been an issue,” says Melsh.
“That goes to show you that not only is Riverside is getting ‘blue’ politically, but it's growing up. Four years from now it will be more majority Hispanic, it’ll be diversified and Republicans will be running for cover.”
In one of the night’s biggest political shockers, political fist-timer Raul Ruiz appears to have narrowly edged out veteran GOP congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs.
During an election night interview with the Palm Springs Desert Sun, Bono Mack all but conceded the race with votes still left to tally.
“Historically the trend would say that the numbers will continue to go the way they are going, and that he (Ruiz) will win,” Bono Mack said.
Republicans held their ground in other parts of the Inland Empire, including the 31st Congressional District that includes the cities of San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga. But by toppling the GOP in several other key races, Democrats might begin to see the region as a winnable battleground for future state and national candidates.