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Assemblyman Brian Nestande launches House campaign challenge

October 15, 2013|By Jean Merl
  • Assemblyman Brian Nestande, right, in 1994 when he was campaign manager for Sonny Bono.
Assemblyman Brian Nestande, right, in 1994 when he was campaign manager… (Los Angeles Times )

Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert on Tuesday launched his long-expected campaign to try to unseat freshman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Springs).

“I have seen firsthand how overreaching government policies are hurting California families,” said Nestande during a news conference at his Palm Desert campaign headquarters. “This government shutdown is the perfect example of why Washington needs fresh voices and perspective to move our country forward.”

In an indication that this race will be hard fought by the national campaign arms of both major parties, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee promptly issued a statement Tuesday criticizing Nestande as a "tea party" candidate and a "Sacramento insider" who opposes "reasonable solutions that help hardworking families. Assemblyman Nestande’s reckless agenda and misplaced priorities would fit right in among Washington Republicans, who have failed to work together to help create and instead shut down the government."

Ruiz, an emergency room physician and the son of farmworkers, ousted Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack last year in a tough race  whose outcome observers chalked up in part to the changing demographics in the once solidly GOP 36th Congressional District.

Republicans and Democrats are now nearly even in registration, with 17% of voters affiliated with no political party.  Latinos make up 47% of district residents, according to the U.S. Census.

Besides Palm Desert and Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley-based district includes Beaumont, Banning, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and Desert Hot Springs.

Nestande, the son of former Assemblyman and Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande, managed Sonny Bono's election to Congress and worked for his widow and successor, Bono Mack, after Sonny Bono's death in a skiing accident. Brian Nestande was elected to the Assembly in 2008 and will be termed out next year. 

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jean.merl@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeanmerl

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