Dr. Raul Ruiz is the first Hispanic to seek to occupy a seat in Congress from California’s Coachella Valley agricultural area, where he was born and raised.
The Democrat, who works in the emergency room at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, is aiming to replace Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack, who has represented the 45th District since 2003.
“Our district is full of working people who want progress and whose efforts are not reflected in the policies of Washington D.C.,” Ruiz, the son of farmworkers, told Efe.
The 39-year-old physician is seeking to take advantage of local irritation with the fact that Bono Mack spends long periods in Florida, home of her husband, GOP Rep. Connie Mack IV.
The 45th district has experienced a democratic transformation in recent years with the Latino community growing to 38 percent of its population, according to the 2010 Census.
Before becoming a candidate, Ruiz, in his role as associate dean of the medical school at University of California Riverside, had launched campaigns to train and encourage a new generation of professionals in medicine, in accord with which he has been the mentor for about 60 young people.
Ruiz has experience seeking support in Coachella.
When he finished high school, and lacking money to go to college, he went around to local businesses to ask for financial help, which he obtained in exchange for the promise to return and serve the community as a physician.
Ruiz graduated from UCLA in 1995 and went on to Harvard, where he earned his medical degree as well as a master’s in public policy and a master’s in public health.