Tough race for U.S. Rep in Palm Springs area

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. As /*Mary Bono Mack*/ fights for a seventh term, she finds herself in an interesting, if not precarious, situation.

Republicans do have momentum right now, but with Congress's approval ratings near an all-time low, it's not a good time to be an incumbent, and this could be her toughest bid for re-election yet.

"Every incumbent needs to prove they're a local voice, that they've represented their constituents well," said Bono Mack. "I believe I've worked very hard for 12 years to make sure that my constituents know I work very hard on their behalf, and I think has helped this campaign."

But her opponent, /*Steve Pougnet*/, who's currently the mayor of Palm Springs, says it's time for a change.

"It is one of the largest districts in the entire country. Home foreclosures, unemployment, you name it, and if I thought that our representative currently was doing a great job, doesn't matter the political party, I wouldn't be running, but it's just not the case," said Pougnet.

The 45th District runs from the Arizona state border on the east all the way to western Riverside County, encompassing cities like Moreno Valley, Murrieta and Hemet. Naturally, both candidates say their top priority is jobs.

"First of all, you bolster up the jobs you currently have out in the Coachella Valley -- that would be tourism and agriculture -- the rest of the district, Blythe on down to Murrieta, agriculture very important, but we're looking at also increasing those folks who are in healthcare services, that is a huge growth area out here," said

"We've got to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. We've got to stop sending them overseas, the loopholes, the foreign income tax. Everything that we do to ship jobs overseas, we need to change that," said

There are some things both candidates agree on: bringing "green" clean-energy jobs to the area as well as cleaning up the Salton Sea. The question is which one of the candidates will be charged with taking care of those tasks. Voters will decide on November 2.

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