Raul Ruiz (politician)

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Raul Ruiz
Raul Ruiz, official portrait, 113th congress.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Janice Hahn
Personal details
Born (1972-08-25) August 25, 1972 (age 41)[1]
Zacatecas, Mexico
Political party Democratic
Residence Palm Desert, California[2]
Alma mater University of California,
Los Angeles
Harvard University
(M.D.; M.P.H.; M.P.P.)
Profession Emergency room physician
Religion Seventh-day Adventist[3]
Website Representative Raul Ruiz

Raul Ruiz (born August 25, 1972) is an American medical doctor and politician. He is a member of the United States House of Representatives and a member of the Democratic Party.[4] In what was considered a major upset,[5] Ruiz defeated redistricted, incumbent Republican representative Mary Bono Mack,[4] in the November 2012 general election, in California's 36th congressional district.

Early life and education[edit]

Ruiz was born in Zacatecas, Mexico [6] and raised in Coachella, California.[7] His parents were migrant farmworkers.[8] He graduated from Coachella Valley High School at age 17, and went to UCLA in 1990, graduating magna cum laude before attending Harvard Medical School.[7] He was the first Hispanic to receive three graduate degrees from Harvard University: an M.D. from the Harvard Medical School; an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. [7]

Medical career[edit]

After graduating from Harvard University, Ruiz spent time working abroad in Mexico, El Salvador, and Serbia, before taking a job as an emergency physician at the Eisenhower Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in the Coachella Valley. He founded the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative in 2010. In 2011, he became senior associate dean at the School of Medicine at University of California, Riverside.[7][9]

In 2012, he received a Commander's Award for Public Service from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division for his humanitarian efforts for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

Ruiz ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2012 as a first-time candidate, challenging Republican representative Mary Bono Mack in California's 36th congressional district. While Ruiz was initially regarded as a long shot to win,[10] he gained traction in the polls in the months before the November election, attacking Bono Mack for not doing enough to court the Latino community in the district.[2] He was elected with 52.9% of the vote, to Bono Mack's 47.1%. Upon taking office in January 2013, Ruiz is the first Democrat to represent the Coachella Valley since John V. Tunney was elected, in 1971.[4][11]


In May 2013, Ruiz voted against repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[12][13]

Committee assignments[edit]


During his 2012 campaign for Congress, Ruiz consistently reaffirmed his support for the Affordable Care Act and made the issue one of the cornerstones of his campaign. As full implementation of the law began in late 2013, its popularity with the public plummeted as many Americans had their policies canceled due to lacking coverage requirements mandated by the law,[14] and the federal health care online exchange had many technical problems that delayed the ability to sign up to new plans.[15]

Ruiz proceeded to vote for two bills in the US House of Representatives that undermined the foundation the Affordable Care Act which he previously supported.[16] Ruiz first voted for a bill that would reduce the number Americans purchasing insurance through the new online exchanges[17] and later voted to suspend the individual mandate which was key provision for allowing people with pre-existing medical conditions to purchase insurance when the law original passed in 2010.[18] Ruiz was heavily criticized by his fellow Democrats in Congress for reversing his position for political reasons.[19]

Thanksgiving Day protests[edit]

In 1997, while attending Harvard as a medical student, Ruiz participated in an annual Thanksgiving protest in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Ruiz was arrested after police attempted to disperse the protest, though he has claimed he was only arrested for defending an elderly Native American man from police.[20] Ruiz pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and tumultuous behavior, which were eventually dropped.[21]

Two years later, in 1999, Ruiz took part in another Thanksgiving protest at which he read a letter of support for Leonard Peltier, who was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for first degree murder in the shooting of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents during a 1975 conflict on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During the 2012 congressional campaign, the incident was used as an attack by his opponent, Mary Bono Mack. In response, Ruiz' campaign stated that he had not supported Peltier.[21]

Airline Passenger Incident[edit]

On October 24, 2013, during a flight home from Washington, D.C., Ruiz used his experience as an emergency room physician to save a collapsed passenger. With the assistance of a firefighter and a flight attendant, the passenger was stabilized until the flight could make an emergency landing in Raleigh, N.C. Another congressman, Pete Gallego, was also onboard and made several positive statements to the media regarding Ruiz' life-saving actions.[22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kondracke, Morton (1972-08-25). "Raul Ruiz, D (Calif.-36)". Roll Call. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  2. ^ a b " "Desert Sun: Rivals Bono Mack Ruiz race finish line". 7 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. [dead link]
  3. ^ The Next America, National Journal, Updated: December 3, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Raul Ruiz unseats Mary Bono Mack in upset Riverside Press-Enterprise, November 7, 2012.
  6. ^ . Desert Sun http://www.mydesert.com/article/20121208/NEWS03/312090001. Retrieved December 9, 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ a b c d e Profile Raul Ruiz, first Hispanic to receive 3 degrees from Harvard
  8. ^ "About". Dr. Raul Ruiz for Congress. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Raul Ruiz". The Washington Times. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Fmr Pres. Clinton Endorses Ruiz for Congress". KESQ-TV. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Bezis, Jason A. "CalPolitiCal: Riverside County - For Obama in 2012, First Democrat Ever to Win Twice". 
  12. ^ Sam Baker (11 June 2013). "NRCC hits Calif. Dems over ObamaCare rates". The Hill. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 154". House.gov. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  14. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/07/politics/obama-obamacare-apology/
  15. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2013/12/03/healthcare-gov-diagnosis-the-government-broke-every-rule-of-project-management/
  16. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/05/us-hold-usa-healthcare-penalty-idUSBREA2429B20140305
  17. ^ http://voices.mydesert.com/2013/11/15/rep-raul-ruiz-joins-republicans-in-backing-keep-your-health-plan-act/
  18. ^ http://blog.pe.com/political-empire/2013/11/15/affordable-care-act-raul-ruiz-votes-for-gop-bill/
  19. ^ http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/314697-liberals-slam-dems-who-voted-to-delay-obamacare-mandate
  20. ^ "California Congressional Candidate Raul Ruiz Talks to ICTMN About Opponent Mary Bono Mack's Attack Ads". Indian Country Today Media Network. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "Raul Ruiz lauds Leonard Peltier in tape released by Mary Bono Mack". MyDesert. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  22. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/10/rep-raul-ruiz-helps-stabilize-ill-passenger-on-flight/
  23. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/24/congressman-ruiz-doctor-airplane-passenger/3180617/

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Janice Hahn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Keith Rothfus
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Brad Schneider