Mary Bono Mack
Erica Felci • The Desert Sun • October 4, 2010
Drawing sharp contrasts to the GOP’s position just two years ago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said “anger” is now “fueling conviction” that the faithful must harness in this November’s election.
“Guess what? A funny thing happened on the way to our funeral,” said Steele, referring to pundits’ dismissal of the Republican Party after the Democratic push in 2008.
“It’s a fresh start for our party. We are the great opportunity party. We are the party that has the better set of ideas.”
Steele addressed about 120 people in Indian Wells as part of the RNC’s “Fire Pelosi” bus tour, which will hit all 48 contiguous states before Election Day to rally against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority.
This was the first California tour stop, and it doubled as a fundraiser for Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign.
The incumbent congresswoman is facing her most aggressive re-election challenger yet in Democrat Steve Pougnet. The Palm Springs mayor has out-fundraised Bono Mack’s previous Democratic challengers, and he has attracted significant attention from the national party, including a recent fundraising boost from U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Throughout Sunday’s event, Bono Mack, Steele and other speakers tried to capitalize on the momentum Republicans are trying to build nationwide. Officials repeatedly noted how they differed from a Democratic party that supported the $787 billion stimulus package and sweeping health care reform.
“Higher taxes and bigger government is not the answer,” Bono Mack told the crowd, many of whom held up red “Fire Pelosi” signs. “It is up to all of us. It is up to us to win in this ground game.”
National officials with both political parties see the 45th District as one they can win.
It is one of only eight California congressional districts represented by a Republican but won by President Barack Obama in 2008.
While Bono Mack was named one of nine vulnerable House Republicans by her own party, the district’s voter registration makeup favors the GOP, and supporters want to retain the seat as Republicans try to take back majority control of Congress.
Pougnet was reportedly scheduled to attend an event with Pelosi in Los Angeles this weekend, though his campaign did not release any details.
Pougnet’s campaign manager, Jordan Marks, joined protesters outside the Miramonte Resort and Spa. In a statement, he called Sunday’s visit “another sign” that the Republicans are “worried.”
“Bono Mack’s campaign can keep inviting Washington, D.C., Republican leaders to the desert, but it’s not going to change the fact that Bono Mack just has turned a blind eye as unemployment and home foreclosure rates have skyrocketed in this district,” Marks said in an e-mail to The Desert Sun.
Bono Mack’s campaign did not immediately announce how much money was raised during Sunday’s event. It came on the eve of early voting, as vote-by-mail ballots are supposed to go out today.
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