Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs/CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

 

BY BEN GOAD
WASHINGTON BUREAU
bgoad@pe.com

Published: 16 July 2012 03:41 PM

WASHINGTON – Inland Southern California’s sitting House members are enjoying the spoils of incumbency, collecting large amounts of contributions while their challengers struggle to keep pace, new campaign finance filings show.

And while outside money hasn’t yet begun to arrive, the reports filed with the Federal Election Commission contain hints suggesting that the region’s most contested races could attract large sums from so-called Super PACs and national interests.

Leading all Inland candidates was Inland Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, who collected almost $328,000 in the six-week period from May 17 through June 30. That brings her second quarter total to more than $500,000, and roughly $1.48 million for the cycle. The contributions included thousands of dollars from T-Mobile, Google and other firms with business before the House Subcommittee on Commerce Manufacturing and trade, of which Bono Mack serves as chairwoman.

That’s nothing out of the ordinary for Washington lawmakers, Stanford political science professor Bruce Cain said.

“As they move up the congressional hierarchy into committees and subcommittees, they begin to take more money from interest groups that have business before the government – and specifically before their committees. “It’s standard practice.”

Bono Mack campaign manager Marc Troast acknowledged that the seven-term lawmaker is helped by her increased stature in Congress but emphasized that she has a broad array of donors.

“She works hard at her job, and I think people appreciate it,” Troast said.

Her opponent in the 36th Congressional District, Democrat Raul Ruiz, took in more than $276,000 for the period, more than any Inland House candidate – incumbent or challenger – outside of Bono Mack. Ruiz, an emergency room doctor at Eisenhower Medical Center, got significant support from the medical professionals in the district, which includes Hemet, Banning, Beaumont and Riverside County’s desert communities.

“Our supporters are sending a clear message that they are sick and tired of this broken Congress and sick and tired of politicians like Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, who stand up for special interests instead of the middle class,” Ruiz said in a written statement.

TAKANO VS. TAVAGLIONE

There is no incumbent in the 41st Congressional District, setting up a heated contest in which Democrat Mark Takano and Republican John Tavaglione have taken turns besting the other in the money race. The open seat, which includes Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Jurupa Valley, was created last summer by the state’s redistricting committee.

Takano, a teacher and Riverside Community College Trustee, won the period, bringing in more than 187,000, according to his filing. Tavaglione, a longtime member of Riverside County’s Board of Supervisors, received more than $160,000. But he remains about $14,000 ahead of Takano for the entire cycle and has spent much less, giving him a $210,000 edge in cash on hand.

The money raised and spent in the race thus far is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have identified the contest as a national priority and believe they can win the seat, which tilts slightly Democratic in terms of voter registration.

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