PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Less than 90 days ahead of the November general election, the race for the 36th congressional district is heating up.

The contest between Democrat incumbent Raul Ruiz and Republican challenger Brian Nestande is being called one of the most competitive races in the country.

Ruiz defeated Republican Mary Bono Mack in the November 2012 election after Bono Mack held the seat for 15 years.

Wednesday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden made the Coachella Valley one of his stops to help raise money for Nestande in this toss-up district.

"We've got opportunities to pick up seats. I believe we can gain to 245. We have 234 now," said Walden in his speech to more than 150 valley Republicans at the Desert Willow Resort in Palm Desert.

The Oregon Congressman heads the campaign arm for congressional Republicans and made a stand for Nestande, who wants to take back the Ruiz's seat for Republicans.

"He really needs to articulate what it's about, what he's for and run a positive campaign and I think he's doing it successfully," Walden said.

Walden says this election will be one of the most aggressive, as the House Majority aims to capitalize on the anti-Obama political climate.

"They've got to defend or try to run from a president and policies that don't work," Walden said.
    
With less than 90 days until the November election, Walden envisions Nestande will pick up one of the 11 House seats Republicans want to claim. That would usher in the biggest GOP House Majority since the Hoover administration in the 1920s.

"It gives us a real governing majority to get things done, to solve the nation's problems, which is what people pay us to do," Walden said.

But the House Minority leads the race for cash, both nationally and here in our district.  According to Ruiz's campaign, the incumbent had raised more than $2.5 million at the end of June. Nestande raised about $900,000.

"Certainly you want your candidate to have more, but against an incumbent you go in figuring you're not going to outraise an incumbent," Walden said. "What's telling is where the money is coming from, and I wager Brian has more coming from the district."

Money from valley voters like the ones who packed a room at Desert Willow to show their support. The turnout has the Congressman confident Nestande will hold a seat next to him come January.

"What Brian has to do is take his record up against Ruiz's record and let the voters decide," Walden said.