The U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C./BLOOMBERG


Published: 04 November 2011 07:58 PM

WASHINGTON — Inland Southern California’s reshaped political landscape figures prominently in congressional Democrats’ plans to take back the House in 2012, party leaders said Friday.

Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to reclaim majority status, which they lost two years ago in a tea party-fueled drubbing. As many of five of those seats could be in California, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel told reporters during a Capitol Hill briefing.

The party is looking for some of those gains to come in the Inland area, which has long been a Republican-dominated area.

On Friday, the Democratic committee launched radio ads targeting 25 GOP incumbents, including Rep. Mary Bono Mack , R-Palm Springs . Bono Mack handily won her last two elections, despite similar attacks from the Democrats. But officials said her district — which now will include Riverside County’s desert communities, Hemet, San Jacinto and The Pass — is less heavily Republican, thanks to the recent redistricting.

Israel pointed to generic polls showing that voters now favor Democrats over Republicans as evidence that the GOP incumbents are in trouble. Democrat Raul Ruiz, an emergency room doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, is running against Bono Mack.

“People want problem-solvers — they want less ideology and more solutions,” Israel said. “There’s no ideology in trying to help somebody who comes into the emergency room.”

Bono Mack’s chief of staff, Frank Cullen, said the lawmaker is taking the race seriously but remains focused on her work representing her constituents.

“Voters recognize that she’s more interested in … working on their behalf than speculating on how these races are going to go,” Cullen said.

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