Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet (D) is officially launching his challenge to Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), carrying the high hopes of national Democrats in a Democratic trending district.

Pougnet has been publicly inching toward a bid for weeks, opening an exploratory committee last month, but now he's told the Palm Springs Desert Sun that's he's decided to go for it.

For a Democratic Party with a dearth of targets, Bono Mack's district has become very attractive after it went for President Obama by five points last year. The GOP registration advantage in the district has fallen from 10 percent in 2006 to 4 percent today.

ADVERTISEMENT
"As we all know, in the last couple congressional campaigns, lots of incumbent Republicans who thought they were untouchable were not," Pougnet told the Desert Sun, stressing job creation as the motive for his run.

Frank Cullen, Bono Mack's chief of staff, said: "I would think Mr. Pougnet would be more concerned about helping people in Palm Springs by working to create jobs in his own community than he would be spending his time as mayor trying to get himself another job."

Pougnet did not raise significant money in the first quarter, pulling in just $11,000 with his exploratory committee.

Democrats are looking the Bono Mack's and several other California districts for new targets. The numbers looked good for them in 2008, in large part thanks to Obama, but it remains to be seen how things will change in a midterm election.

But on paper, if any Golden State district is ripe for a takeover, it's Bono Mack's.

-Aaron Blake