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.


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.”


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”



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, www.acgov.org/rov, 510-267-8683
Contra Costa County, www.cocovote.us, 925-335-7800
Marin County, www.marinvotes.org, 415-473-6456
Monterey County, www.montereycountyelections.us, 831-796-1499
Napa County, www.countyofnapa.org/Elections, 707-253-4321
San Francisco, www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=599, 415-554-4375
San Joaquin County, www.sjcrov.org, 209-468-2885
San Mateo County, www.shapethefuture.org, 650-312-5222
Santa Clara County, www.sccvote.org, 408-299-8683
Santa Cruz County, www.votescount.com, 831-454-2060
Solano County, www.solanocounty.com/depts/rov, 707-784-6675
Sonoma County, vote.sonoma-county.org, 707-565-6800

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


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.