The 2012 race for the 36th Congressional District is still more than six months away, but the competition for campaign money and the public’s perception of the candidates— Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and her Democratic challenger, Dr. Raul Ruiz — is already intense.

The results of the fundraising from January through March were released in the past week. Ruiz’s campaign sent out press releases touting his accomplishment.

“We out raised Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack in the first FEC filing quarter! Because of you, our campaign raised $271,000 to her $258,000,” read the release.

But Bono Mack has raised more than $915,000 through March 31 and has $607,000 in available cash. Ruiz has raised $477,000, less than half of Bono Mack’s level, and has $350,000 in cash. This is almost double his available funds at the beginning of the table

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 different Democrat to attempt to unseat the incumbent.

At the beginning of the 2010 campaign, 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.

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.

Details on the sources of Bono Mack’s and Ruiz’s funds will be available next week.