Raul Ruiz, Democratic challenger, defeated Representative Mary Bono Mack in Tuesday’s race for the 36th Congressional District. Slowly and steadily Ruiz has built a 7,300 vote lead as of Saturday, Nov. 10.
But it was on Friday, after the county registrar reported vote totals giving Ruiz a 7,200 vote advantage that the 14-year congresswoman conceded.
“Today, I called Dr. Ruiz and congratulated him on his impressive victory. Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed,” she said in a press release.
Later Friday, Ruiz said, “I thanked Mary for her dedicated public service to our community and talked with her about working together for the benefit of our community moving forward.
“I’m honored to go to Washington and represent the entire district — including supporters of Congresswoman Bono Mack. If you have a good idea — Democrat or Republican — I want to hear it. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned throughout my life, and this campaign — that we achieve more through conversation than confrontation,” Ruiz said in a press email.
With more than 199,000 ballots counted in this race, Ruiz received about 52 percent of the vote.
The registrar’s office still has nearly 85,000 ballots to count. Nearly three-quarters are provisional ballots (60,000). Of the remaining, about 15,500 are vote-by-mail and about 9,500 damaged ballots are also uncounted.
In the Hemet Unified School District election, Lisa DeForest expanded her lead as the top vote getter and Jim Smith and Marilyn Forst remained second and third for the three seats in this election.
The Measure U totals are now 24,695 “Yes” votes, which is 68.7 percent of the total.
Based on the latest ballot count, 63.3 percent of Riverside County’s registered voters cast ballots. But if all of the uncounted 85,000 ballots are eventually counted, turnout will be about 72.3 percent.
This is significantly less than the 78.3 percent turnout for the 2008 election, but would be slightly less than the 72.8 percent of voters in 2004. In the 2010 mid-term election, 57.4 percent of county voters participated.
Based on just the election night results, which reflected a countywide turnout of 54.5 percent, Idyllwild and Pine Cove continued their tradition of exceeding countywide voter activism. The initial (through Wednesday evening) results indicated that local turnout was 65 to 66 percent. If consistent with the countywide figures, this number will be higher when the final results are announced.
Of the 1,060 ballots from Idyllwild, 52.8 percent were cast for Ruiz, but Pine Cove voters favored Bono Mack 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent, a six-vote difference out of 378 counted ballots.
In the school board balloting, Forst was the top choice for Pine Cove voters and edged DeForest in Idyllwild, too. But they and Smith were still the top three vote getters here and throughout the school district.
Both local areas supported Measure U, but slightly less enthusiastically than the rest of the Hemet District.