PALM SPRINGS, Calif.- - Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, will advance to the November general election as he looks to retain his 36th Congressional District seat, and he will square off with a Republican former soap opera actress.
As of 6:40 a.m. Wednesday Ruiz had 39,527 votes representing 54.71% support, while Brown Pelzer took 16,539 votes or 22.89%. Rep. Ruiz released a statement of gratitude Wednesday morning following his big Tuesday night:
"Thank you for believing in yourselves, our communities and our common vision to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security, fight for veterans, and grow the economy and wages formiddle-classs families! It is an honor to have your support. From the bottom of my and my family's hearts - Thank you!"
All ballots have not yet been counted. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters website posted a message Wednesday morning saying, "Approximately 102,000 Vote-by-Mail, 14,000 Provisional and 7,000 damaged ballots that require duplication still must be processed. Work on those begins Wednesday morning. Ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than Friday also remain to be counted. The next updated results will be posted at 6:00pm on Friday."
Ruiz easily led the way in Tuesday's primary election, while Republican Kimberlin Brown Pelzer outpaced four other Republicans to win a spot on the November ballot. Pelzer is a Palm Springs resident who starred in ``The Young and the Restless'' and ``The Bold and the Beautiful.''
Brown Pelzer first arrived on the political scene as a guest speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2016. Since announcing her candidacy, she's received the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee, along with several conservative California congressmen and Coachella Valley leaders like Indio Councilman Glenn Miller and former La Quinta Mayor Terry Henderson-Jandt.
Brown Pelzer has identified defense, immigration and tax reform as her key issues while stating that Ruiz has failed to make any real progress during his tenure.
``Since joining Congress five years ago, he hasn't passed a single piece of meaningful legislation,'' she contends on her campaign website. ``I have a track record of successes, I follow through on my promises and I'll get results.''
Ruiz, a Coachella Valley native, and physician, has held onto the 36th District post since unseating longtime incumbent Mary Bono in 2012, triggering a brief era of Democratic reign in a district typically controlled by Republicans.
Ruiz identifies affordable healthcare and veterans' issues among his chief issues, stating that his work as a doctor allows him ``to put people first.''
Also on the ballot were Dan Ball, a former local news anchor and Air Force veteran; Douglas Hassett, a La Quinta resident and member of several local Republican bodies, including the Riverside County Republican Central Committee; Robert Bentley, a software developer and former U.S. Army veteran; and La Quinta resident Stephen J. Wolkowicz, who previously ran for the 36th Congressional seat in 2016.