Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

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.

Meanwhile, the Bono Mack campaign is making the most of audio tape from a 1999 protest where then-Harvard medical student Ruiz appeared at a rally in support of activists Leonard Peltier, convicted of killing FBI agents, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, imprisoned for killing a Philadelphia police officer. 

Bono Mack's political director says, “Police officers from throughout Southern California have condemned Ruiz for his support for cop-killers. This radio ad will let voters throughout the district hear his chilling words.”

The Ruiz campaign says he doesn't support anyone convicted of murdering law enforcement officers, pointing out that he works with them daily as an emergency room doctor.

Last week, both candidates released internal polls with radically different numbers. The Ruiz poll showed him ahead by a slight three points; the Mack poll showed her ahead by 17 points.