With Election Day just more than a month away, the two candidates squaring off for the 36th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives spoke with News Channel 3 on some of the major issues.
News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia went in-depth with Republican Erin Cruz, and Democrat incumbent Dr. Raul Ruiz on coronavirus federal relief, abortion, healthcare, the environment, and campaign finances.
"There's definitely some challenges campaigning in a pandemic, but there's also opportunities," Ruiz said.
"We've got to see a change in D.C.," Cruz said.
On coronavirus relief from the federal government, Cruz said she's fed up with partisan gridlock in Washington.
"Where is the middle ground; where is actually serving the people?" Cruz said. "Why can't Congress move forward on a simple stimulus that way to help the people who are struggling – without all their backdoor deals, without all their maneuvering?"
Ruiz said the inaction from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been frustrating. "You cannot have aid without another stimulus check or enhanced unemployment or protections for people who are about to be evicted," he said.
On campaign finances, Ruiz has raised more than $1.8 million in contributions, according to the FEC as of June 30.
"The vast majority of the contributions to my campaign are from individuals because this is a people-powered campaign," Ruiz said.
Cruz has raised less than $6,500. She said her candidacy is funded by regular, every day people.
"They want to have true representation that isn't bought," Cruz said. "I've been offered PAC money; I don't take big PAC money, don't take special interest dollars."
We asked if she worries her financial deficit could hurt her election effort. Cruz said, "Absolutely not."
On the candidates' stances on some of the big ticket issues – abortion and healthcare:
"The federal government should not be dictating what a woman can and cannot do with her own body," Ruiz said.
"I am pro-life from conception," Cruz said.
"In terms of healthcare, I am 100 percent defending Medicare to ensure that people who have pre-existing conditions will be protected," Ruiz said.
"I've heard from the individuals out there in the community who state that they would like to see ObamaCare reformed or adjusted," Cruz said.
On environmental issues, like the historic wildfires ravaging California, and the role of climate change:
"We're going to have more frequent and more intense fires if we don't do something about climate change," Ruiz said. "We have to reduce our carbon emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels by promoting the renewable energy that my district, that our district, can produce."
Cruz said, "Climate change is here all the time and it's always been here and I think to be naive about that is – it's just naive."
Ruiz said the Salton Sea environmental crisis has been a priority for him since he's been in office.
"I am as impatient as anybody else – not wanting any studies," Ruiz said. "I want to focus on what's necessary to start and complete projects in order to prevent the dust from harming our children and our elderly's lungs."
The candidates' messages to the voters here in the 36th district:
"Have you had enough yet? Do you want to see different action taken that benefits your community?" Cruz asked.
"We need somebody who is going to put people above partisanships – solutions above ideology, and I have done that effectively," Ruiz said.