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CA-36 Incumbent Raul Ruiz Outraises Top Republican Challenger in Q1

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Politico reports that Democratic incumbent Rep. Raul Ruiz (CD-36) raised $430,000 in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014 and has $1.5 million on hand. This gives him a major financial advantage over Assemblymember Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert), who is Ruiz's biggest opponent going into the June primary.

While there is another Republican, small businessman Ray Haynes, in the race, Nestande is considered the GOP favorite and has been ranked a "contender" in the National Republican Congressional Committee's (NRCC) "Young Gun" funding program. The program is meant to help the most competitive Republican candidates gain access to the GOP's national donor base.

At least in the first quarter, his status with the NRCC has not helped give him an edge over Ruiz, though this could change if the two indeed face off in the general election. According to his FEC filing, Nestande raised $145,000 in Q1 and has $322,000 on hand.

Ruiz, who won his first term in Congress in 2012, narrowly edged his opponent, then-GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack (who represented CA-45), 52.9 percent to 47.1 percent in a district that had roughly the same number of registered Republicans as Democrats. According to the last registration report from the secretary of state, released on December 31, 2013, Republicans had a slight advantage over Democrats, 40-38, going into 2014.

California's 36th Congressional District may be the best chance Republicans have at flipping a district in the state. If Nestande is going to tap into the national donor pool, he will likely wait for what is expected to be a heated contest heading into the November election, a contest that will likely be decided by independent voters.

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