Good morning from Palm Springs, where Democrats have one of the most difficult districts to defend next year. Here’s what I previously wrote about CD36:
Physician Raul Ruiz defeated incumbent Mary Bono Mack in 2012 during a year in which stars aligned for California Democrats. Democrats won all contested seats except one (CD10), and CD36 was one of the most difficult.
This sprawling district stretches from Hemet to the Arizona border includes pockets of both significant (and seasonal) wealth and deep poverty.
However, the perception that Mary Bono Mack had become quite disconnected from the district found resonance with voters who had been deeply hurt by the sustained recession. Bono Mack, who was elected to the seat following the death of her then-husband Sonny Bono, was on the ballot at the same time as her husband Congressman Connie Mack, who unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat in Florida. Aside from the jet-setting part-time residents of the resort communities, the concept of a bi-coastal household just didn’t play well.
In likely GOP candidate Brian Nestande, Raul Ruiz will have a much more difficult time holding this seat, particularly in a mid-term election.
Nestande, whose father was a state senator from Orange County, has sought to be a more moderate voice in the conservative Assembly Republican caucus. Nestande knows the district well, having managed campaigns and served in key staff roles for both Sonny Bono and Mary Bono Mack.
To keep the seat in the off-year, Ruiz needs to see strong voter turnout, hold all the Democrats who voted for him in 2012, and also to grab a slightly larger share of independent voters who previously voted for Bono Mack.
The seat will likely be the second highest pick-up priority in California for House Republicans, behind only Scott Peters’s CD52.
Here are a few more nuggets to chew on. Barack Obama won the district both in 2008 and 2012, but barely at 50.1% and 50.7%. Jerry Brown underpolled Meg Whitman here by 6.3%. At 39.1%, Democrats have a razor-thin lead over the Republican share of 38.7%. Ruiz, however, has emerged as a strong fundraiser and has $875,933 on hand to Nestande’s $150,585. (Nestande would note that he didn’t formally announce until last week, although he has been the presumed candidate for months.)
About Brian Nestande
A native Californian, Brian Nestande is a successful businessman, proven political leader, and family man. Elected to the State Assembly in 2008, Brian has focused on increasing transparency and accountability in the state budget and reforming the regulatory environment that is driving job creators out of California.
He believes in streamlining government bureaucracy and reducing the size of government. The first bill Brian introduced in Sacramento was to limit the number of bills a legislator could introduce. By streamlining the bureaucracy and eliminating redundant regulations, California businesses and entrepreneurs will have a better opportunity to expand their business, create more jobs, and improve our quality of life.
As a candidate for Congress, Brian wants to bring the same focus to reforming the tax code and the way government spends our money. The United States can no longer afford to deficit spend year- after-year and we need to find ways to eliminate duplicate programs. As we draw down on military commitments around the world, we must invest in transforming our economy to remain competitive in the 21st Century.
A bipartisan leader, Brian reached across party lines to help build a coalition that closed a loophole on out of state businesses in the attempt to achieve bi-partisan compromise on regulatory relief for California businesses. That leadership was not without controversy but that’s what we need more of in Washington: Leaders unafraid to do what is needed to get our nation back on track.
A graduate of California State University Fullerton, Brian lives in Palm Desert with his wife, Gina. They have seven children.