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Emken finishes with no debt, DiFi with big victory

Elizabeth Emken, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in last month’s election, announced today that she finished her campaign without any debt.

Emken, of Danville, said her final financial report shows her campaign raised $1,112,077.53, with more than 10,000 donors contributing $100 or less. Final Secretary of State records show Emken receiving 4,713,887 votes, which means her campaign spent less than 24 cents per vote.

“It was my goal to finish the campaign strong and I’m proud of the hard work we did to model the same fiscal accountability that I promised to bring to Washington,” Emken said in a news release. “We maximized the vote with minimal resources, and made the most of our donors’ contributions.”

A Republican slate mailer company had sued her for breach of contract in October, claiming she still owed $65,000 yet had used campaign funds to repay a $200,000 personal loan she made to her campaign in the spring. Her spokesman today said the matter has been “settled to everyone’s satisfaction.”

And here’s the perfect place to say: I goofed.

I wrote a blog post right after the election positing that Emken had outperformed other, past challengers to Feinstein. But in my bleary state that day, I failed to account for the fact that past elections had third-party candidates and – due to our new top-two primary system – this year’s had only Feinstein and Emken.

In fact, Feinstein beat Emken this year by the largest victory margin she has ever had: 25 percentage points. Feinstein had beat Dick Mountjoy in 2006 by 24.4 points; Tom Campbell in 2000 by 19.3 points; Michael Huffington in 1994 by 1.9 points; and John Seymour in 1992 by 16.3 points.

Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Emken lost big to DiFi, but not as big as others

You’ve gotta give this to Elizabeth Emken of Danville – although she lost her race against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein by almost 23 percentage points, she still had a better showing than any Republican has against Feinstein in a loooong time.

Elizabeth EmkenWith some ballots still yet to be counted, Emken finished with 38.6 percent of the vote compared to Feinstein’s 61.4 percent.

If you are surprised by this result, you haven’t been paying attention. On the other hand, Emken did comparably well.

Six years ago, former state Sen. Dick Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, finished with 35.1 percent of the vote against Feinstein; six years before that, Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Campbell, finished with 36.6 percent.

In fact, the only Republican challenging an incumbent Feinstein who outperformed Emken was Michael Huffington way back in 1994, with 44.8 percent of the vote to Feinstein’s 46.7 percent. And Huffington spent $28 million of his own money on that bid – at the time, the most expensive campaign in a non-presidential election in American history – while Emken ran her campaign this year on a half-million-dollar shoestring.

And speaking of shoes, Emken must’ve worn out a lot of shoe leather as she travelled all over the state to reach as many voters as she could in person, since a broadcast media campaign was out of the question on her budget. She also leveraged her social media presence to good advantage as a tireless tweeter. Her final tweet of the campaign came at 7:59 p.m. Tuesday night: “I’ve had the time of my life fighting dragons with you.”

Spokesman Mark Standriff said Emken was at the doctor’s office with laryngitis Wednesday afternoon, but he offered some thoughts on her behalf.

“Elizabeth worked the phones, the meetings and the media harder than any three candidates I’ve ever known. She connected with people on a personal level that they weren’t used to seeing or hearing from politicians, and she won over virtually everyone she met during the campaign,” he said.

“The political establishment should look at these results and rethink their qualification criteria for recruiting and funding candidates,” Standriff added. “She didn’t have a political track record, she couldn’t write a $5 million check, but Elizabeth had the one thing that really resonates with voters, and that’s sincerity. With her resume, her drive and the right amount of resources, just imagine what the outcome might have been.”

I didn’t make it to Feinstein’s news conference this morning in San Francisco, but a staffer tells me she “talked about the need for cooperation between the parties, her gratitude to California and her concern about the looming fiscal cliff.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 7 Comments »

Election 2012 open thread

OK, have at it in the comments, readers – just remember to keep it clean, and avoid personal attacks on each other.

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | 38 Comments »

Some inspirational words for Election Day

Some words of inspiration for those who still haven’t cast a ballot today:

“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.”
— Daniel Webster

“I know nothing grander, better exercise, better digestion, more positive proof of the past, the triumphant result of faith in human kind, than a well-contested American national election.”
— Walt Whitman

“We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home. Voting is the first duty of democracy.”
— President Lyndon B. Johnson

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan

“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.”
Laurence J. Peter, formulator of “the Peter Principle”

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 Contra Costa County election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | No Comments »


It’s Election Day – get out there and vote, if you haven’t already!

California’s polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you haven’t put your vote-by-mail ballot in the mail yet, DON’T – it won’t be counted unless it reaches the registrar’s office by 8 p.m. tonight, and postmarks don’t matter. You can drop it off by hand at any polling place in your county, or at the registrar’s office; don’t forget to sign the outside of the envelope.

If you have any questions about your ballot, your polling place or anything else having to do with this election, contact your county registrar:

Alameda County,, 510-267-8683
Contra Costa County,, 925-335-7800
Marin County,, 415-473-6456
Monterey County,, 831-796-1499
Napa County,, 707-253-4321
San Francisco,, 415-554-4375
San Joaquin County,, 209-468-2885
San Mateo County,, 650-312-5222
Santa Clara County,, 408-299-8683
Santa Cruz County,, 831-454-2060
Solano County,, 707-784-6675
Sonoma County,, 707-565-6800

To report election fraud, call the California Secretary of State Office‘s voter hotline: 800-345-8683

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 Contra Costa County election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | 7 Comments »

Dianne Feinstein launches campaign ad

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign is airing a television ad – not that it really needs to.

The campaign says the ad will be airing in all of California’s major media markets.

That requires the kind of moolah that Feinstein’s Republican challenger, Elizabeth Emken of Danville, just doesn’t seem to have. That’s not to say Emken hasn’t been giving the campaign her best effort, but this just isn’t a race that any national or state political experts have ever believed would be competitive.

And, by just about any measure, it’s not. Real Clear Politics’ average of four polls taken since early September shows Feinstein leading by almost 24 percentage points; over at the New York Times, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog gives Feinstein a 100 percent chance of winning, and projects she’ll get about 60 percent of the vote.

Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 9 Comments »

Feinstein’s foe is in the red, FEC report shows

No surprise, but U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein once again has far outstripped her opponent in campaign fundraising, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission for July 1 through Sept. 30.

Feinstein, D-Calif., raised $924,768 and spent $494,884 in the third quarter of 2012, and had $3,328,842 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 with $331,924 in outstanding debts and obligations, leaving $2,996,919 unencumbered.

Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken of Danville raised $324,259 and spent $250,546 during the third quarter, and had $99,423 cash on hand as of Sept. 30 – but she also had $309,579 in outstanding debts and obligations, potentially leaving her in the red if she can’t raise a lot in these final weeks. Unless I’m reading it wrong, that outstanding debt does not include the $200,000 she personally loaned her own campaign earlier this year, because the campaign already has repaid her.

Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, campaign finance, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

Your political singalong: ‘Akin Breakin’ Heart’

(To the tune of “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray “Father of Miley” Cyrus:)

Go and tell Missouri, and tell Governor Romney
I’m not droppin’ out of this campaign
And tell Claire McCaskill, that Democratic rascal
She’d better not be popping that champagne

I was asked about abortion, so I served up a portion
Of knowledge ‘bout “legitimate rape”
I took a lot of heat from the liberal elite
I wish the Dems would stop airing that tape.

But don’t tell my heart, my Akin breakin’ heart
That I look like a political clown
‘cause I know in my heart, my Akin breakin’ heart
Them woman parts can “shut that whole thing down.”

You can tell John Cornyn he really shouldn’t horn in,
On Show-Me State concerns he shouldn’t scold
And you can tell Scott Brown, way up in Boston-town
At least I never was a centerfold

Oh, tell all your doctors, your uptight Barbara Boxers
I learned the birds’n’bees from my gran’pa
But now they’re using me to judge the GOP
I guess I won’t be welcome in Tampa.

From St. Lou to Kansas City, I’m not getting much pity
Rasmussen shows I’m now 10 points behind
But about a woman’s body, my knowledge ain’t so shoddy
So you can tell ‘em all I’ve not resigned.

And don’t tell my heart, my Akin breakin’ heart
That I look like a political clown
‘cause I know in my heart, my Akin breakin’ heart
Them woman parts can “shut that whole thing down.”

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election | 3 Comments »

No fundraising boom for Emken’s Senate campaign

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken’s success in the June 5 primary didn’t translate into a big fundraising boom for her, her latest report to the Federal Election Commission shows.

Elizabeth EmkenEmken, 49, of Danville, bested 22 other candidates to finish second behind U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the June 5 primary; Feinstein got 49.3 percent of the vote, while Emken got 12.6 percent.

In the period from May 17 through June 30, Emken collected only $53,834 in new contributions, bringing her total in this election cycle so far to $182,927. Worse yet, she had only $26,754 cash on hand as of June 30, with $260,546 in outstanding debts and obligations.

Feinstein hasn’t filed(see update below) her May 17-June 30 report yet, but her previous report showed she raised almost four times more from April 1 through May 16 – $706,419 – than Emken has in this whole cycle.

“We knew this was going to be a financial challenge — in fact, I don’t know anyone who thought otherwise — but that snapshot has been taken and the picture is looking brighter,” Emken spokesman Mark Standriff said today. “In just the past few days, the Emken campaign brought on Ron Nehring as senior strategist and Anne Hyde Dunsmore, one of California’s most successful fundraisers, as our finance director. It’s still going to be an uphill struggle, but we’re picking up steam at the right time.”

Nehring is the California Republican Party’s former chairman.

Nobody expects the National Republican Senatorial Committee will sink much, if any, money into Emken’s campaign; Feinstein is widely seen as unassailable, and the NRSC will target its money to states where seats are truly up for grabs.

For context, 2006 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Dick Mountjoy raised $18,672 during the similar period from May 16 to June 30, 2006, leaving him with $20,854 cash on hand at the middle of that year. So maybe Emken shouldn’t feel so bad; then again, Feinstein beat Mountjoy 59 percent to 35 percent that November.

UPDATE @ 12:52 P.M.: My bad – Feinstein has filed her FEC report for May 17 through June 30. It shows she raised $575,678 during that time (almost 11 times as much as Emken) and had $3,085,603 cash on hand as of June 30 (115 times as much as Emken) with outstanding debts and obligations of $302,092.

Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, campaign finance, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

DiFi hosting fundraiser tonight for Senate Dems

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, though her campaign was the victim of a tremendous embezzlement, seems unconcerned enough about her own re-election race that she’s hosting a fundraiser tonight mostly for other Democratic Senate candidates.

The 6:30 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. dinner tonight at her home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood will benefit the Heartland Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Feinstein; U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp; Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey; and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Tester, Heitkamp and Kerry will attend tonight’s dinner.

Tickets for the dinner cost from $15,000 per person to $35,800 per couple. The first $5,000 of each contribution will be allocated evenly between Feinstein’s, Tester’s, Kerrey’s, McCaskill’s and Heitkamp’s campaigns; the next $30,800 of each contribution from a person, and the next $15,000 of each contribution from a multicandidate committee, will go to the DSCC.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took its shots this morning.

“It’s funny how the road from North Dakota to Washington keeps leading Heitkamp through the hills of San Francisco and Los Angeles,” NRSC spokesman Lance Trover said in a news release. “If North Dakotans want to see who Heidi Heitkamp will stand with in Washington, they don’t need to look any further than to see who she is hobnobbing with in San Francisco.”

Kerrey, who lived and worked in New York City from 2001 to 2010 as a university president, got a similar verbal beatdown.

“Last week, Democrat Bob Kerrey wanted to keep outside money out of Nebraska yet today he’s collecting cash from Dianne Feinstein’s liberal friends in San Francisco,” NRSC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said. “It’s clear liberals in New York and San Francisco know that Bob Kerrey will once again be a loyal vote for their big government agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending.”

Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012
Under: 2012 U.S. Senate election, campaign finance, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »