COACHELLA, Calif. -

Bringing back the old-school approach of going door-to-door, Dr. Raul Ruiz took on his campaign's first registration drive of the election season on Monday. The first stop, his childhood neighborhood in Coachella.

"If you actually go and knock, they're more inclined to listen," said Mirna Flores, a volunteer of Desert Hot Springs.

Some voters say the competition between candidates, eight-term incumbent Mary Bono Mack and Dr. Ruiz, is going to be tough. However, getting people in the 36th District to actually vote is what some volunteers said is another big challenge.

"We have a lot of people in Coachella that are not registered. I don't do well in the heat but I'm out here to get people registered to vote," said Flores.

Latinos make up about 47 percent of the district. Ruiz said gaining the Hispanic vote is not a tactic but a philosophy.

"People have to realize our democracy is not for sale. Realize your voice counts. Everybody deserves to be heard," said Ruiz.

Meantime, opponent Bono Mack's office said, "The voters throughout the district have consistently rewarded her with landslide victories, proving good government is always good politics."

Some top controversial issues -- including same-sex marriage -- could be a game-changing factor.

"We are for full equality. We are against any form of discrimination. We do not want anybody to live as second-class citizens," said Ruiz.

Bono Mack said, "This is not -- nor should it be -- a federal matter. This is about states' rights. My position has not changed: Same sex marriage remains an issue for each state to determine."
For now, Ruiz says it's about getting the community to the polls.

"It starts by going out registering and going out to vote," he said.

"We need to have our voice heard out there," said Flores.

Surveys show some of the other top issues that Hispanic voters care about are education, government spending, cuts to Medicare, and jobs.