The 2012 race for the 36th Congressional District is heating up. At least, the candidates — Rep. Mary Bono Mack and her Democratic challenger, Dr. Raul Ruiz — were beneficial recipients of donors’ largesse during the fourth quarter of 2011.
Ruiz raised $100,000 in individual contributions during the latest reporting period. From July 1 through Dec. 31, 2011, his total contributions were about $205,000, including a $5,000 personal loan to the campaign. At the end of the year, Ruiz had almost $180,000 available for the campaign.
Officially, the party primaries are still four months away (June 5) but Ruiz seems to be the Democratic choice to face Bono Mack in 2012. He will be the seventh consecutive Democrat to attempt to unseat the incumbent.
Preparing for her eighth race, Bono Mack collected $645,000 in contributions during 2011. Nearly 45 percent ($290,000) came from individuals and another 55 percent ($355,000) came from committees. On Dec. 31, Bono Mack had $525,000 in cash for the campaign.
At the beginning of 2010, when her opponent was Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, Bono Mack had more than $715,000 in cash. By the end of the campaign in November 2010, she had spent $2.4 million on her re-election bid.
In contrast, Pougnet spent $1.8 million during the campaign, yet at this same point of the campaign, December 2009, he had received more than $550,000 in contributions and had $400,000 in the bank, more than twice Ruiz’s cash.
Bono Mack’s campaign financing has lagged behind her 2010 effort largely because of demands on her time outside her district, according to Marc Troast, her campaign manager. She is now chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. Committee hearings and house business demands attention. Recently she also has been aiding presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his quest for the Republican nomination.
“She always raises money when it’s necessary to be aggressive,” Troast said.
Ruiz is an emergency room physician, yet Bono Mack’s top political action committee contributions are from medical and healthcare organizations. She’s raised more than $55,000 from groups such as Humana, Merck and the national Emergency Medical Political Action Committee.
Broadcast and Internet entities have each sent $42,000 to her coffers so far.