Dr. Raul Ruiz Snags The Big Endorsement From Mary Bono Mack
Until yesterday, Coachella Valley's biggest newspaper, the Desert Sun, had never once failed to endorse Mary Bono Mack during her 7 runs for Congress. That's streak is done! They still admire her but there's a far more qualified candidate running this year, Dr. Raul Ruiz, and they gave him the nod. But the content-- and seriousness-- of the editorial is even more notable than the end of Mary Bono Mack's winning streak with the Sun. They say she's grown too comfortable inside the Beltway bubble and is no longer the appropriate representative for California's vast 36th CD, stretching from Hemet and Beaumont through Palm Springs and Indio all the way to Blythe and the Nevada border. "Rep. Bono Mack talks like a Washington insider," they wrote. "She has adopted the rhetoric of partisan think tanks and the thought-police of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove. For two election cycles she has brandished fellow California House member Nancy Pelosi’s mugshot like a weapon, attacking challengers Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and Palm Desert physician Raul Ruiz. While we don’t share many of Nancy Pelosi’s ideologies, she alone is not what’s wrong with government. It’s not about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about us. Here in the desert, it’s about jobs, education, health care and a stable retirement."
Ruiz has an extraordinary biography. The son of poor farm workers, he went door to door and persuaded local businesspeople to invest in the Coachella Valley by investing in his education. He returned from UCLA and Harvard University-- magna cum laude and with three advanced degrees-- and has been working hard for his community ever since. He's an E.R. physician at the Valley's only non-profit hospital, serves as the Senior Associate Dean at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and is the founder and director of the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative. He's beloved in the community for helping to open clinics giving free care and health education to under-served communities throughout the Valley. Bono Mack is living the life of a mindless plutocrat, married to a brainless Florida Congressman and the two of them are considered Congress' best-dressed couple. That's it.
In this volatile campaign, Rep. Bono Mack also found herself clarifying a statement she made in a 2006 email she sent to a radio announcer. After a show that covered various topics, including terrible living conditions at the Duroville trailer park, the congresswoman told the radio host he was “unbelievably great.” Rep. Bono Mack told the host it was “too funny” when he called the east valley-- Dr. Ruiz’s childhood home-- a “Third World Toilet.”Bono Mack has tried to bill herself as a "moderate" and a "mainstream conservative" but after a scare from the Tea Party a few years ago, she's veered sharply to the right. ProgressivePunch scores her a dismal 5.91 on crucial roll calls for her career-- and an even more dismal 4.62 for the current session. Her record is even worse than right-wing extremists here in California like Ed Royce (6.84), Dana Rohrabacher (9.30), John Campbell (10.56), Brian Bilbray (11.78) and Tom McClintock (13.31). All those scores are dreadful for ordinary working families but what it really measures is the unwillingness of Bono Mack to ever stray from the party line. Few Members of Congress have stuck so fast to every single permutation of the corporate and obstructionist agenda that Boehner and Cantor are pushing. It's long past time for Bono Mack to retire to her mansion in Florida. And Raul Ruiz looks like he's got the makings of an excellent and dedicated congressman.
Her campaign first apologized about the email, calling Bono Mack’s words “inappropriate,” but later took issue with the context of her private email, insisting she was talking about Duroville. Rep. Bono Mack’s unfortunate commentary about our neglected neighbors should be another asterisk to this campaign.
We believe her actions today speak louder than her email then.
...A debate we co-sponsored with KMIR6 was a rare chance for the Coachella Valley to hear the congressional candidates’ unadulterated positions on Libya, Medicare, immigration, the Salton Sea and the economy. Instead, Rep. Bono Mack used her opening statement to attack Ruiz. The ensuing hour rarely ventured back to clarity.
...Rep. Bono Mack has ceded local leadership on issues such as gay marriage and the Salton Sea to the courts or California, forgetting that as Californians we trust that she will use her voice to echo ours when she speaks in Congress and at home.
Dr. Ruiz has proven his willingness to organize from the ground. He is the founder of the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative and he created a mentorship program for local students interested in becoming doctors and returning to the Coachella Valley.
During an editorial board interview, we asked the candidates about jobs and economic development and Dr. Ruiz offered the most eloquent and informed explanation about the Coachella Valley’s economy. Smart, and disciplined, green energy investment-- for solar, wind, geo-thermal-- is a plus for the desert, and Dr. Ruiz told us he’d protect and grow this sector.
When it comes to taxes, we believe Dr. Ruiz offered the best compromise-- keep the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone earning below $1 million. We hope Republicans and Democrats can avoid the fiscal cliff by moving to the middle to find sensible budget solutions that a majority of us can agree with. That’s a promise we would demand be kept by Dr. Ruiz.
Dr. Ruiz supports bringing the troops home from Afghanistan. Two years ago, Rep. Bono Mack said it was in our best interests to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, but on the campaign trail she said we should “get the hell out” if Obama couldn’t provide a salient reason for remaining.
Dr. Ruiz has been instrumental in securing funds and support for a medical school at the University of California, Riverside, and he is an advocate for expanding that program to campuses in Palm Desert, to pair with nursing programs and to foster growth in bio-technology. That makes great economic sense.
By creating or expanding medical residency programs at Eisenhower Medical Center and Desert Regional Medical Center and investing in the health care sector, the Coachella Valley will also attract more general practitioners to the desert, especially in places where the tragically underserved share one doctor with 9,000 neighbors.
This is the only place in the United States where the Flying Doctors land to practice temporary, tent-city medicine. Dr. Ruiz, who joined a mission of medical charity to Haiti, knows too well the need for more doctors in his hometown-- and he believes that path is clearing now that UCR has received preliminary approval for its program and financial support from Coachella Valley taxpayers through the Desert Healthcare District and Riverside County.
On another question we posed to Rep. Bono Mack and Dr. Ruiz-- threats to world security-- Rep. Bono Mack mentioned Russia, an old rival that may someday again pose an immediate threat to U.S. interests or world stability. Dr. Ruiz quickly and succinctly pointed to Iran, a country whose leader has vowed to abolish Israel and whose thirst for nuclear ascendancy threatens us all.
The Desert Sun respects and celebrates the contributions of Rep. Bono Mack. Fourteen years ago, we endorsed a political novice with a dream about changing the tenor of Washington politics. It’s time to challenge ourselves again, to celebrate a passionate new voice for the Coachella Valley.
The future of the 36th District, we believe, would be better served by Dr. Ruiz.