Elizabeth Emken doesn’t feel that California is getting the fair shake it deserves.
At least in the United States Senate.
Just two years after Republicans targeted powerful Senator Barbara Boxer in an attempt to unseat the longtime political mainstay, Emken – who ran as part of a crowded GOP field that as unsuccessful in taking back Jerry McNerney’s seat in Congress the same year – is now the party’s best hope of dethroning former San Francisco mayor and California’s senior US Senator Diane Feinstein.
Before a crowded room Tuesday night at the meeting of the South San Joaquin Republicans at Chez Shari, Emken talked about the shortcomings of her opponent and how a change of vision is badly needed for a state that for too long has been represented by those out of touch with the common family.
Even though things didn’t turn out the way the party had hoped in 2010 – $183 million was spent on key races like the gubernatorial showdown between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman and the bid to rid Boxer – Emken believes that the time for Republicans in California is coming.
“Even on our best day we have trouble with Republican races here in California. But I believe that is going to change and I want to be a part of that change,” she said. “It’s time to take out the sort of entrenched incumbents that haven’t debated since the year 2000 and aren’t in touch with the people they represent – that aren’t a part of social media and don’t feel they need to participate in this process.
“This is an insurgency – it’s a revolution. Nobody paid any attention to the American Revolutionary Army either – they were too small and underfunded. We all know how that turned out.”
With degrees in economics and political science from UCLA, Emken embarked on a career doing cost center-based analysis for IBM until her son was diagnosed with autism. She spent 16 years as a major player with Autism Speaks – most recently serving as the Vice President for Government Relations – and began to learn the ins-and-outs of Washington, D.C. ,while championing the cause.
It was there that she had an ill-fated run-in with McNerney – whom, she says, informed her that he’d be voting along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Caucus rather than taking the information she was giving him at face value. Right then and there she knew she had to do something.
So after cutting her political teeth on the battle to beat McNerney, Emken and the California Republican Party set their sights on the powerful Feinstein with the hopes that a grassroots and targeted campaign can send her back to San Francisco.
“She’s been in office since 1492 and she’s out of touch with what your family and our family is going through,” Emken said. “I want to go back, roll-up my sleeves and not just occupy a senate seat in the dining room – that’s where she likes to hang out.
“Diane Feinstein just doesn’t represent the families of California anymore.”