Elizabeth Emken to take on Rep. Ami Bera in 2014

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.

Elizabeth EmkenA 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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    I suppose somebody has to run against Dr Bera. Her campaign against DiFi is hardly a reason to be optimistic about her chances in ‘14.1

  • JohnW

    Either she discovered Fair Oaks while campaigning for the Senate and liked what she saw, or she is really pathetically desperate to be in Congress.

    The Wall Street Journal ran a story this week about how both parties are having a hard time recruiting quality candidates to run for open Senate seats. People see the toxic, nothing-gets-done circumstances and decide they would rather stay at home and run for governor or some other statewide office.

  • Patty O’Day


    Am I the only person that has complained about the font on this board lately? I go on several boards every day and I am really having trouble reading everything here. I know I am getting old and my eyes are failing, but this is the only place where I have such problems. I find it really hard to read.

  • Josh Richman

    @3 – Alas, you are the only person who has complained about the font, and because this blog is based on a corporate platform, I’m unable to make any changes to it.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    From Hilary Clinton to Tom McClintock, people move to get elected to a higher office. Maybe they only pretend to move. They are so into partying at taxpayers expense.

  • JohnW

    #3 Patty O’Day

    Patty, I don’t know what type of computer you have, but most have a feature that allows you to adjust the font size settings. Generally, you can either go into “settings” and change the default font size; or you can adjust the font size only for what you are currently reading.

    I have a Mac. When I read this blog, I often press the Command button on the keyboard, and then press the + key until the font is the size I want.

  • briscoespops

    Shameless carpetbagger.

  • JohnW

    I wonder how her family feels about moving from Danville and the highly ranked San Ramon Valley School District to Fair Oaks. Thanks Mom!

  • Elwood

    Does she have kids?

    Do they attend public schools?

  • JohnW

    Three according to her website, all living with the parents. Two daughters and a 21-year-son with autism spectrum disorder. Judging from the photo, the daughters could be either high school or college age. As you probably know, she became an activist on behalf of people with autism after their son was diagnosed.