But that may not be the only political trouble facing Rep. Mack’s household. His wife, GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, the widow of entertainer Sonny Bono, is also facing the toughest reelection challenge since she assumed the seat representing Palm Springs that her late husband held until he was killed in a freak skiing accident in January 1998. Because Rep. Mack opted to give up his seat in Florida to run against Nelson, there’s a chance now that both Mack and Bono Mack will not be returning to Washington next year.
Rep. Bono Mack, who is considered to be one of the five most vulnerable Republican representatives in the House, appears to have really stepped in it when an “October surprise” lodged against her Democratic opponent, emergency-room physician Raul Ruiz, backfired, big time:
On Tuesday, the Bono-Mack campaign sent local news media a 1997 photo of Ruiz in a courtroom with a number of other protestors who had been arrested in a Thanksgiving Day protest at Plymouth Rock over American mistreatment of Native people.
Ruiz was never charged in the incident. His campaign quickly responded to the release of the photo by saying that their candidate had actually sustained injuries while protecting an elderly Native American man from blows by police.
The Bono Mack campaign’s statement accompanying the release of the photo makes the campaign’s strategy plain: they’re trying to appeal to hard-right, Fox-News devoted potential voters:
These radical, anti-American activities led by Raul Ruiz including anti Thanksgiving protests, and supporting FBI killer Leonard Peltier for a span of six years brings the whole legitimacy of his candidacy into question It certainly explains the support he’s received from Sean Penn, the Hugo Chavez apologist and why the infamous left wing billionaire Soros family have invested so much money into his cause.”
In the meantime, the attack may have inadvertently galvanized potential Ruiz voters as well. The Coachella Valley and outlying desert portions of the 36th have thousands of Native residents who are potential voters, and reminding them that the Democratic candidate is willing to commit to supporting them — while at the same time implying that the Republican candidate finds them “un-American” — may well backfire on Bono Mack come election day.
And as regards Latino voters, who make up 40 percent of the district, the news may well galvanize them.
This latest misfires provides additional ammunition for the Ruiz campaign. The Democrats are airing a television spot in which Bono Mack lists as one of her most recent legislative accomplishments a bill naming a post office in the district.
But a 2006 email she sent to a right-wing radio talker in the district in which she trashed the town of Coachello — famous in Southern California as a the site of annual outdoor music festival — is also causing trouble for Bono Mack:
In all likelihood, the Thanksgiving Day protest photo was released in an attempt to defuse a politically toxic 2006 email sent by Bono Mack to a local radio show host, in which the incumbent applauded a radio talk show host’s description of the city of Coachella — which Bono Mack represents — as a “Third World toilet.” In the email to commentator Gary Stone, which the Ruiz campaign found and shared with journalists in September, Bono Mack said:
Thank you!!!! I heard some of your remarks with the councliman from Coachella. You were great!!!!!! Unbelievably great!!! Third World Toilet? That was too funny. … You rock and are so damn funny and smart! Hey, how come you don’t send me poems and Shakdespeare anymore? I miss that!
Bono Mack’s campaign staff responded to the revelation by saying that Bono Mack recognized her 2006 comments were “inappropriate,” and that the “third world toilet” comment was actually intended to refer to Mecca’s notorious Duroville trailer park rather than to Coachella
It may be cold comfort, but if both Mack and Bono Mack lose their elections this year, it will allow the couple to consolidate their lives in either Palm Springs or Florida, rather than having to split their time three ways among their districts and the home they share in Washington.