Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz was re-elected to the House of Representatives in November. He still has 20 months in his second term and 18 until the next election.
But last week, Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos Watson announced her intention to challenge Ruiz in 2016. (See accompanying story.)
Watson was born and raised in Indio and has served on the council since 2004. She previously served as mayor from 2007 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2011.
But one her challenges will be raising funds to compete against Ruiz. In the 2014 campaign, his Republican opponent was Brian Nestande, a well-known and incumbent state Assembly member.
Ruiz, who was running in his first re-election, raised nearly $3.5 million for the campaign compared to Nestande’s $1.3 million. In the election, Ruiz garnered 54 percent of the votes to easily win re-election.
As of the end of March 2015, Ruiz has received slightly more than $380,000 in contributions in anticipation of his third congressional campaign. Nearly two-thirds of the contributions were from individuals. With carry-over from the 2014 campaign, Ruiz already has about $690,000 in cash.
At the same point, early in the campaign two years ago, Ruiz had collected about $345,000 in contributions, about half from individuals and half from political committees. But his cash balance was about $295,000, less than half his available cash this year.
Besides many individual donations of less than $100 and even as little as $1, Ruiz has benefited from many different political action committee donations. Through March he has received eight donations of $5,000, including from the American Crystal Sugar Company, and 18 more of $2,000 or greater.
Some of the donors are local. Some are concerned about his position on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. These include local Native American tribes such as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, as well as tribal groups from New York to Washington.
His profession as a physician also attracts many individual donations from fellow doctors, but also medical organizations, corporations and political leaders.
For example, political actions committees representing the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the National Emergency Medicine Association and others have already contributed more than $25,000.
Corporate donations from companies such as AT&T, Wal-Mart and others have donated more than $25,000, too, while house political leaders such Nancy Pelosi, Steven Hoyer and the Democratic Congressional Coordinating Committee also have helped Ruiz’s coffers.