“Last week, Elizabeth kicked off her campaign and received very enthusiastic support from around California. Since then, we’ve put together some of the state’s most successful Republican fundraising professionals to form her finance team,” Emken campaign manager Jeff Corless said in a news release. “Feinstein’s weakness has landed her on the national target list, and Elizabeth Emken’s finance team shows we’re very serious about raising the funding needed to contest this seat. We’re looking forward to a vigorous campaign in the coming months.”
Here’s the team:
Joanne Davis, finance director – Davis most recently served as chief financial officer for Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful bid to unseat Barbara Boxer in 2010; earlier, she raised tens of millions for candidates and causes including President George W. Bush, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the Republican National Committee, the California Republican Party, gubernatorial candidates Bill Simon and Richard Riordan, then-Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Charissa Abbay-Gonzales, Los Angeles/Central Coast regional finance director – Abbay-Gonzales is president of On Target Fundraising and Events, with past clients including the gubernatorial campaigns of Meg Whitman, Richard Riordan and Bill Simon.
Jennifer Fitzgerald, Orange County regional finance director – Fitzgerald is the founder and CEO of CL7 Communications, Inc., a political communications and fundraising firm, with past clients including Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. John Campbell, Rep. Ed Royce and the California Women’s Leadership Association.
Jean Freelove, San Diego regional finance director – Freelove has been San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ fundraising adviser for seven years and also has raised money for various state lawmakers, city councilmembers and county supervisors. She was part of Carly Fiorina’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign and now assists the National Republican Senatorial Committee and House Speaker John Boehner with San Diego-area fundraising.
I haven’t yet seen Emken’s year-end FEC report, for which the filing deadline is later today, but her camp advises me not to expect much because she was in exploratory mode until just last week; today’s finance-team rollout marks the start of her concerted fundraising effort. Then again, Emken already had formed a campaign committee, hired staffers and launched a website at the end of November, writing on the GOP information clearinghouse FlashReport.org that she’s “running for U.S. Senate because my children need me to.”
Spokesman Tim Clark told me in November that Emken – who lost $200,000 of her own money on her June 2010 House GOP primary bid, in which she finished fourth in a field of four – isn’t planning to self-finance this campaign. Since then, Mark Standriff – formerly the state GOP’s spokesman – has taken over Emken’s campaign communications.
Emken isn’t the only Republican candidate in the race: Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez rolled out his exploratory committee just last week. Ramirez got about 2 percent of the vote in the 2010 GOP primary seeking the nomination to unseat Boxer – a very distant fourth behind Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore – but told the Los Angeles Times last week that he now has more experience and better relationships with state party leaders.
Feinstein, 78, won a 1992 special election to the U.S. Senate and then was re-elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006, but her poll numbers portend a somewhat tougher fight in 2012. And although Feinstein’s campaign reported a $9.2 million bankroll as of Sept. 30, some or even most of that money may have been embezzled by Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee, who was arrested in September by the FBI.