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California - 45th District

Incumbent -- Mary Bono Mack (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

The argument against Bono Mack's vulnerability is that she has faced well-funded challengers in far better years nationally for Democrats and come out unscathed. In a strong cycle for Republicans, Bono Mack again faces a credible challenger in Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.

The difference, however, is that Pougnet likely is better known and absolutely better funded than Bono Mack's last two opponents. The Democrat went on the air with TV and radio ads after the first week in September and had enough money to stay on the air through the election.

Pougnet agrees with the incumbent that things are not on the right track in Washington, D.C., but he argues Bono Mack and Republicans are not the solution. He touts his record of creating jobs and cutting crime as mayor.

Bono Mack, whose first husband, the late Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.), also served as Palm Springs mayor, has slammed Pougnet's record and has a strong campaign war chest of her own to count on.

Although President Barack Obama won this district by 5 points in 2008, the area still leans Republican, and Bono Mack has the strong edge with a month left to go.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Riverside County's booming population -- in Inland Empire cities, such as Moreno Valley, Hemet and Murrieta, and the resort-filled Coachella Valley farther east -- has made the 45th California's most populous district leading up to decennial remapping. Desert resorts, a service industry workforce and agriculture fuel the economy here. Air pollution in the Los Angeles exurbs are a concern for residents and officials.

In the Coachella Valley, every city except the already established Palm Springs experienced at least 17 percent growth in the last decade. Once known as a playground for the rich and retired, a younger, middle-class population began to move in when housing was inexpensive and have stayed despite high home foreclosure and unemployment rates. Beyond tourism and service sectors across the district, the resort region also relies on health care, shopping and gambling industries. Wind turbine generators, which have taken advantage of particularly breezy areas in the mountains for decades, are becoming more common.

Migrant farm laborers, the majority of whom are Hispanic, provide much of the agricultural workforce in the Temecula wine country and the Coachella and San Jacinto valleys, which produce citrus, dates, alfalfa and grapes. Immigration enforcement in the district's cities and farm worker conditions in rural areas remain divisive public policy issues.

Fiscally conservative and socially liberal, Palm Springs has sizable Jewish and Hispanic communities and a growing gay population -- the city elected its first gay mayor in 2003. Palm Springs also ranks among the nation's most successful gay and lesbian tourism destinations.

Although Republicans have a slight registration edge in the 45th, areas in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs vote Democratic. The district gave Democrat Barack Obama 52 percent of its 2008 presidential vote and GOP candidate Meg Whitman 50 percent in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Major Industry

Service, tourism, agriculture


Moreno Valley (pt.), 193,326; Murrieta (pt.), 89,097; Hemet (pt.), 78,640; Indio, 76,036; Cathedral City, 51,200; Palm Desert, 48,445


The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway boasts the world's largest rotating tramcars.




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