Dr. Raul Ruiz visits the Town Crier in early January. Photo by Marshall Smith
Dr. Raul Ruiz, Democrat challenger for Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s seat for the new 36th Congressional District that includes Idyllwild, will be in town on Thursday, March 1. Part of Ruiz’s district-wide “Listening Tour,” the Idyllwild visit gives the doctor an opportunity to hear what issues are important to Hill residents. The first, in what Ruiz said are many visits to the Hill, will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Town Hall.

Ruiz’s campaign recently replaced his locally based campaign manager, Tizoc DeAztlan, with Kyle Layman, an East Coast operative with experience running campaigns in New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina. The switch is part of what Layman maintains had always been the campaign’s intention to move to the next level as part of a national effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to raise the profile of this race. The switch in campaign managers, Layman said, was a Ruiz team decision and not one engineered by the DCCC.

Layman said he made the commitment to manage this campaign because he believes Ruiz is the right candidate for this district at this time.

Although Bono Mack is a popular incumbent who has not previously faced a serious challenge, her 45th District has been redrawn to a district (the 36th) with a 47 percent Latino population. Also, Republican voter registration advantage in the new district is now only 1.6 percent, compared to a 6 percent advantage in the old 45th. These demographic changes help Ruiz, according to Layman,

More importantly, Layman said Ruiz is helped because he is running as a nonpolitician at a time when most voters hold politicians in low regard, as evidenced by polls showing voter approval for Congress running at historic lows.

“This is a time when not being a politician is a strength,” Layman said. “He’s an outsider with a unique perspective as an emergency doctor. He’s a professional who is used to diagnosing a problem and moving to solve it. Also, this candidate is thoroughly community-focused. He has the capacity to engage new people in the process.”

Born in the Coachella Valley to farmworker parents, Ruiz said he credited his parents with instilling in him the notion that hard work, a solid education and community service are the keys to building a better life. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Ruiz returned to the Coachella Valley and launched a Future Physician Leaders program to help local youth do what he had done — become doctors and return home to serve their own communities.

Even with all the demographic and registration changes from the 45th to 36th District, Congresswoman Bono Mack retains a formidable fundraising advantage. Nevertheless, Ruiz’s campaign reported raising $153,186 from 1,100 donors in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to $215,077 Bono Mack raised in the same period.

Information about Ruiz’s candidacy can be found on his website: www.drraulruiz.com.

Dr. Raul Ruiz, Democrat, challenger for Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s seat for the new Congressional district 36 that includes Idyllwild, will be in town on Thursday, March 1 at 10 a.m. Part of Ruiz’s district-wide “Listening Tour,” the doctor hopes to learn what issues are of most importance to Hill residents.

The event, what Ruiz said is first of many visits to the Hill, will be held at Town Hall.