Elizabeth Emken, the Danville Republican who challenged U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in last November’s general election, has set her sights on a new office: the 7th Congressional District seat now held by freshman Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova.
A former nonprofit officer and businesswoman, Emken, 50, proved to be a tireless campaigner despite anemic fundraising and an opponent many had deemed invulnerable.
She referred to Bera as an “Obama wave freshman” in her tweet declaring her candidacy about an hour ago, indicating she believes Bera rode the president’s coattails and can’t hold the seat in a midterm election.
In a statement posted on her campaign’s website, Emken wrote she’s “coming off a U.S. Senate race where I garnered 4.7 million votes and rallied conservatives from across California.” True, although November’s election was the first time that the state’s new “top two” system was in effect, so that Emken and Feinstein were the only candidates on the ballot; Emken lost the race with 37.5 percent of the statewide vote, to Feinstein’s 62.5 percent – the widest victory margin Feinstein has ever had.
Emken wrote that “millionaire Ami Bera … barely defeated” incumbent Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, last year in a district that’s very close in voter registration. Bera won with 51.7 percent of the vote to Lungren’s 48.3 percent. The latest voter registration numbers show the district is 39.1 percent Democrat, 37.4 percent Republican and 18.9 percent no-party-preference.
“Ami Bera ran on Obamacare. Now as Americans are beginning to see how flawed this law is, and individual health care premiums in California are skyrocketing by up to 146%, he will have a lot of explaining to do,” she wrote.
“But I’m not running because of him. I’m running because of what is happening in Washington and the need to send someone to Washington who understands the struggles of our families and who is concerned about the direction of our country – and our government,” she continued. “Just this past week, Americans were shocked to learn that the Obama Administration has been conducting warrantless tracking of the phone calls of American citizens, with a secret program called PRISM. The Obama Administration used the IRS to target political opponents and appears to be covering up meetings between top IRS officials and senior White House staffers. The Department of Justice has been putting phone taps on White House reporters and investigating many critical of Administration policies.”
Emken also claims the U.S. Department of State “has yet to give a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi, Libya. The only thing that is clear is that the Administration failed to keep Americans safe – and then covered it up.”
“On all of these issues, Ami Bera has supported the Obama Administration,” she wrote.
I’ve left a voicemail for her, but haven’t yet heard back. Among the questions I’ll ask are whether she’s still a Danville resident; Danville is far outside the 7th Congressional District, but House members need only live within their state, not within the district they serve. The statement of organization her campaign filed earlier this month with the Federal Election Commission has an address in Elk Grove, but that’s not Emken’s address – it’s that of her campaign treasurer.
Republican former congressman Doug Ose also reportedly is considering a run against Bera in 2014.
UPDATE @ 6:04 P.M.: Emken says she has sold her house in Danville and is in the process of moving her family to a house she bought in Fair Oaks, within the 7th Congressional District.
“No one else to my knowledge has made the same moving commitment that I’ve made,” she said – a poke at Ose, whose Sacramento home is just a few blocks outside the district.
Emken said she travelled all over California for last year’s senate race, but spent a significant amount of time in this district because of its strong GOP campaign infrastructure due to the Bera-Lungren contest.
“I don’t think Ami Bera really fits the district and I think it’s a good fit for me,” she said, adding she’s been talking to people in the district for the past six months. “I’m committed, I’ll outwork anybody … It’s going to be a very exciting race.”