Among politicians, candidates and campaign managers, money and cash are the “lingua franca.” In the race for California’s 36th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) has the dominating and loudest voice.
As of March 31, Ruiz has nearly $1.85 million in cash, awaiting the fall campaign.
Two Republicans, state Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) and Steven Wolkowicz of Palm Desert, are challenging Ruiz in the June 7 primary. The top two vote getters will face off in the November general election. Most believe the fall campaign will pit Ruiz and Stone against each other.
Ruiz was elected in 2012, when he upset then incumbent Rep. Mary Bono. In 2014, he defeated former Assemblyman Brian Nestande. For that race, Ruiz had accumulated nearly $1.2 million by the end of March 2014. By the election, he had collected more than $3.4 million and spent about $3.1 million for his re-election.
During the first quarter of 2016, Ruiz has raised about $460,000 and spent nearly $120,000.
Stone entered the race only in December. Since then he has raised about $118,000. Almost all of Stone’s money, thus far, has come from California residents. Only $6,600 came from donors outside the state. In contrast, Ruiz’s fundraising is dominated by out-of-state contributions. Nearly 60 percent of his money came from outside California. From Alaska to Maine and from Alabama to Wisconsin, Ruiz has reached out to supporters across the continent.
About 70 percent of Ruiz’s contributions have come from gifts greater than $2,500. Even a few Idyllwild residents have helped Ruiz’s campaign, but $250 was their largest contribution. Stone’s finances, although much less than Ruiz’s, also are dominated by a few generous benefactors. About a third of his contributors have given $2,700.
Of the total contributions from political committees, Ruiz has received about $90,000 from state groups and nearly $380,000 from political groups based in Washington, D.C. For example, political action committees, such as Democrats Reshaping America Political Action Committee and Democrats United to Change and Hope, have given, as has minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Other PACs included medical groups, such as American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Osteopathic Information Association, and utilities, such as Cox, Time Warner and Verizon.
The third candidate, Wolkowicz, has not filed any financial reports through the end of March.
At the beginning of April, Democrats had 106,700 registered voters in District 36, slightly ahead of the 100,700 registered Republicans. The gap has grown by about 1,500 voters since January. The total number of registered voters in the district is about 275,400, of which 53,600 are Independents.