RANCHO MIRAGE (AP) — Longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack lost the newly redrawn 36th Congressional District seat Friday to Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized the district's growing swath of Hispanic voters.
In Bono Mack's Riverside County district, updated vote totals gave Ruiz a nearly 7,300-vote lead out of about 182,000 cast. The race in the desert communities near Palm Springs was one of this year's hottest congressional battlegrounds as both candidates drew millions of dollars in outside spending.
"I believe that this election sends a message that it's time to put an end to partisan gridlock," Ruiz said. "My door is always open to everyone. If you have a good idea — Democrat or Republican — I want to hear it."
Ruiz said when he gets to Washington he will focus on health care, jobs, education and renewable energy.
Bono Mack served eight terms after winning an election in 1998 to fill the seat of her late husband, entertainer Sonny Bono. Her current husband, GOP Rep. Connie Mack IV of Florida, lost his bid for the U.S. Senate.
In a statement to supporters, Bono Mack congratulated Ruiz and said she was looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life.
"Thank you for giving me the distinct honor of serving in the United States House of Representatives for 14 years," she said. "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."
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