Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, was handily fending off challenges Tuesday evening from three Republican challengers in the primary election.
With 25% of ballots counted, Ruiz had netted almost 50,000 votes to his nearest competitor’s 20,000, signaling the likelihood of the 36th Congressional District seat remaining his, although he will still have to compete with the second-place finisher in the November general election.
The district covers an area stretching from San Jacinto to the west and Blythe to the east. Ruiz, a physician, snatched the district from Republican Mary Bono in an upset win in 2012, and has since secured multiple double-digit reelection victories.
Erin Cruz was in a distant second place, while the other two GOP contestants, Milo Stevanovich and Patrice Kimbler, were trailing well behind.
Meantime, the race to represent the 42nd Assembly District, which encompasses parts of both Riverside and San Bernardino counties, includes a Democrat, a Republican and an incumbent who identifies as neither.
Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, who has represented the district since 2014, was holding a comfortable lead in initial returns. Mayes defected from the GOP in December. Days later, the California Republican Party Board of Directors rescinded its endorsement of the incumbent, saying in a statement, “Chad has let the Republican Party down just as he let down the voters of California.”
Mayes sought to explain his rationale for departing the party, and while not taking a direct swipe at President Donald Trump, he referenced national “political discord.”
“Really simply: It’s because of my frustration with the way our political system is working today,” Mayes wrote.
He’s now running without a party preference. His Republican challenger, San Jacinto Mayor Andrew Kotyuk, was in a sizable deficit, according to early election returns.
Kotyuk is “not only a true patriot, but a strong supporter of President Trump’s fight against the liberal socialists who would destroy our American economy.” according to his campaign website.
On the Democratic side, Hemet lawyer DeniAntionette Mazingo was close behind Kotyuk in early returns. She has notched a host of high-profile endorsements, including California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, state Controller Betty Yee and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
The top two vote-getters in each of the races will advance to the November general election.