In one of Southern California's most contentious races, challenger Raul Ruiz was leading incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack in the redrawn 36th Congressional District that includes the San Gorgonio Pass and the Coachella Valley.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Ruiz, D-Coachella, finished with 83,402 votes, ahead of Bono Mack with 78,845 votes, according to unofficial results updated Wednesday Nov. 7 by the Riverside County registrar and Secretary of State.
Ruiz and Bono Mack staged only one live debate in the buildup to Election Day. For anyone who missed it, uninterrupted video courtesy of KMIR6 is attached to this report.
Ruiz tracked Election Night returns at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon. Bono Mack kept watch at Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. Banning-Beaumont Patch covered both campaign gatherings live.
Ruiz took 51.4 percent of the vote to Bono Mack's 48.6 percent, according to unofficial results, in a contest that was considered too close to call after midnight Tuesday Nov. 6.
By Wednesday morning the Desert Sun website featured a photo of Ruiz headlined "The Coachella Valley's New Congressman."
But Bono Mack's campaign was not conceding, citing more than 150,00 uncounted ballots in Riverside County. The congresswoman's political director, Marc Troast, issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"With more than 180,000 ballots still to be counted around Riverside County, it is premature to consider any election results final. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and her campaign will be awaiting the impact of this large number of remaining ballots before making any further statements on the 36th Congressional District race."
Bono Mack has represented the Coachella Valley since 1998, when she won a special election to replace her late husband and former Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono.