Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack is facing a challenge from Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.
Steve Pougnet is seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party this June to challenge Congresswoman Bono Mack in the 45th Congressional District come November. The District covers the Coachella Valley and central and southern portions of the County.
If he succeeds in ousting Bono Mack from her seat, Steve Pougnet would be Riverside County's first openly gay member of Congress.
Steve Pougnet came to prominence in Palm Springs when he was elected to the City Council in 2003 along with Ginny Foat and then-Mayor Ron Oden. Their victory significantly changed the Palm Springs City Council from one of latent conservative leanings to one with a Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender (GLBT) majority and a active GLBT agenda.
In 2007, Steve Pougnet was elected as the Mayor of Palm Springs. The transition of mayoral power from the openly gay Oden to the openly gay Pougnet marked another milestone in Palm Springs GLBT movement. It proved 2003 wasn't a fluke. The GLBT movement had staying power in Palm Springs.
After Barack Obama carried the 45th Congressional District in his 2008 victory, Steve Pougnet set his sights on the Congress and challenged Bono Mack. A real estate agent by trade, Steve Pougnet was able to campaign virtually non-stop last year since there was little action in Riverside County's home buying market in 2009.
Politically, Steve Pougnet offers a stark contrast to Republican Mary Bono Mack as he is definitely in line with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's liberal-progressive agenda.
Since economics will likely dominate this year's campaigns, it's important for us to look at Steve Pougnet's economic policies.
On the Palm Springs City Council Steve Pougnet has shown he is not afraid to raise taxes. If elected to the Congress, Pougnet will support raising income taxes, which will happen in 2011 after the Congress allows the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire.
Steve Pougnet has been evasive about his position on Health Care Reform, but it is clear that he would have supported the plan that was approved by House last year which included a single-payer public option for health insurance.
Steve Pougnet also supports increased federal spending. He has constantly criticized Mary Bono Mack for not supporting the Economic Stimulus legislation last year, even though the only "success" of the Stimulus has been to vastly increase the National Debt. The Stimulus has not revived America's economy or resulted in any net job creation.
This should be an interesting contest dear reader. Steve Pougnet has the money to give Bono Mack a solid challenge. There are plenty of issues for them to debate and discuss beyond economics, but in the end the edge still goes to Congresswoman Bono Mack.
The 45th Congressional District is more of a centrist-right leaning seat. Bono Mack's positions on most issues line up better with the voters there than Pougnet's positions do. While Steve Pougnet's progressive, GLBT politics may gain him votes in Palm Springs, it is doubtful that his positions will help him outside of his own city.