Haynes Looks To Challenge House Democrat in California

Ray Haynes, a former California Senate Republican Whip, is "looking seriously" at running for his state's 36th district

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Mimi Walters, Ray Haynes
AP / Rich Pedroncelli

Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Temecula, during the Assembly session held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006.

Feasting on a favorable political climate, Ray Haynes, a former California Senate Republican Whip, is “looking seriously” at running for his state’s 36th district, according to an email sent to his supporters, a copy of which was obtained by TIME. The seat is currently held by Democrat Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician.

“It is rare that a Congressional seat comes up that is ripe for the taking by a Republican (especially here in California), and is occupied by a Democrat,” writes Haynes. “I believe I can bring that district into the Republican column in 2014.”

Haynes notes that he represented the western portions of the Palm Springs-based district in his fourteen years in the state legislature. Haynes did not say what issues he would run on, but espoused the principles he learned from former President Ronald Reagan: “I believe in the Republican principles of freedom, free enterprise, small government, and lower taxes.”

Ruiz beat Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack in the last election with nearly 53% of the vote. The Cook Political Report calls the seat a “toss-up” with a “R+1” rating. If he decides to run, Haynes’ main primary competition will be former Mack Chief of Staff Brian Nestande, a state legislator with over $150,000 on hand according to the latest FEC reports. Haynes will need to quickly catch up in the money race—Ruiz has over $875,000 on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Over the last couple of years I have found myself becoming more and more frustrated by what is going on in Washington,” writes Haynes. “Quite frankly, I could live the rest of my life, never be in Congress, and believe that I have done well by my neighbors during my time in politics. However, there are times when I believe I can be value added to the country, my state, my county, and my neighbors by giving voice to their concerns and their needs in the political arena. The time to win the 36th Congressional district is this year, and so, if I am to re-engage in politics, this would be the time to do so. That is why I am looking at this seat now.”