Heavily liberal Palm Springs, described by many as the “gayest city in America,” could soon be represented in Congress by a politician opposed to same-sex marriage, gun laws, and abortion.
That scenario is possible following an announcement on KESQ-TV Thursday by Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat who currently serves the entire Coachella Valley in District 36, that he would run in a proposed district that includes Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, and Indio, and not in one that includes Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and La Quinta.
“It splits my heart and breaks my heart in two just given that I’ve represented everybody in the Coachella Valley,” Ruiz told the station.
Breaking up the Coachella Valley — including placing the large LGBTQ populations of Palm Springs and Cathedral City into different districts — is not official yet. Still, maps that should be adopted by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission by the end of the month show that happening. The maps are not expected to change much from their current draft, which can be viewed on the Commission’s website here.
If adopted as currently drawn, Palm Springs would be included in a district that includes, among other cities, Lake Elsinore and Corona. Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, a Corona resident, has served that area of Riverside County in Congress since 1992. Calvert, who captured 57% of the vote in 2020, is expected to run again, saying in an email earlier this year that, “Voters know I’ll stand up to Nancy Pelosi and oppose the radical, socialist, defund the police agenda of the Democratic Party.”
That type of rhetoric, along with stances against federal funding for abortions, the creation of new gun laws, and same-sex marriage, isn’t likely to win him many votes in Palm Springs. Roughly 80% of voters in the city chose President Joe Biden in the 2020 General Election. Ruiz was chosen by 60% of Coachella Valley voters in 2020.
Calvert is expected to have some challengers in the new district, including:
- Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor from Canyon Lake;
- Democrat Brandon Mosely, a teacher from Menifee;
- Democrat Shrina Kurani, an engineer from Riverside; and
- Republican Storm Jenkins, a gun shop owner from Palm Desert.
Ruiz has served the entire Coachella Valley since taking office in January 2013 after defeating Republican Mary Bono. He chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
He may be challenged by California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a former mayor of Coachella, who told KESQ, “At this point, nothing has been ruled out, and I await the final maps to see where I might best serve our community.”