Even Californians jaded by the antics of their state's obnoxious political class were stunned by the outrageous sense of entitlement displayed by long term California senator Dianne Feinstein when a local television reporter dared ask her why she refuses to debate her Republican opponent Elizabeth Emken.
Feinstein simply got up, patted the reporter on the arm, and walked away, leaving behind her empty chair. Apparently, she just can’t be bothered to explain to her constituents why she deserves yet another term on the backbenches of the Senate – a tenure that has seen the Golden State turn from a symbol of optimism to Greece-on-the-Pacific.
Elizabeth Emken, a Republican, beat the odds and 22 other candidates in the open primary last June for the right to undertake and even tougher challenge – defeating DiFi in November.
Unlike Feinstein, who has cashed government paychecks since her start as a San Francisco Board of Supervisors member in the 1970s, Emken worked in the real world. She began at IBM as an efficiency expert, leveraging her Economics and Political Science degree from UCLA to figure out how to make organizations work better and cheaper.
That’s experience Feinstein lacks – the only people she makes government work for are rich, connected liberal donors like her husband. On her watch, California has swirled down the sewer, yet she feels it’s an intolerable imposition to bother responding to the people.
There’s a word for that. It’s “arrogance.”
Emken comes from a much different place – instead of being comfortably ensconced as a minor potentate in the Senate she chose real service behind the scenes. [Full Disclosure: I am an Emken supporter and have donated to her campaign.]
Then her son Alex was diagnosed with autism, changing the trajectory of Emken’s life from a climb up the ladder to the highest reaches of the business world to instead focus on developmentally disabled children. As Vice President for Government Relations at Autism Speaks, one of the country’s largest science and advocacy organizations, Emken devoted herself to passing crucial legislation through a largely uncaring Congress. Some of her most important efforts were focused on transparency and accountability in research spending.
That kind of skill set might just come in handy in Washington – especially if the one wielding it wants to make her mark rather than just mark her time.
Still, some wonder if California is a lost cause, a blue state in perpetuity with the dream that built it just a fading memory. Emken will have none of it. She believes in California even as Feinstein believes in her inalienable right to reign over its ruins.
But is there any chance for Emken to take down a fossilized incumbent like Feinstein? It’s an uphill struggle to be sure, but there are hopeful signs. Feinstein was stunned to find herself at under 50% approval, the lowest level of her career. And many conservatives are rallying to Emken’s cause, notably her tireless advocate Dennis Prager.
The recent videotape of Her Majesty Queen Dianne waving off her subjects has gotten enormous play after being posted on BreitbartTV, with local radio hosts and national figures like Sean Hannity putting it out for the world to see.
Even the Los Angeles Times was disgusted – perhaps the first time in all of human history that it chastised a Democrat for any misdemeanor besides being insufficiently liberal.
This is all important, but Emken must have conservatives’ help to have any chance. Her campaign, as tightly budgeted and carefully run as one might expect from someone with her background, needs national support to get her message out. Donations to her campaign – make them here – are up, but California is perhaps the most expensive media market in the country.
And will all this new focus on Emken lead Feinstein to change her mind and debate her opponent? Unlikely – it’s impossible to imagine her submitting to questions and challenges to her record like some mere mortal.
But perhaps the people of California have different expectations. Perhaps the people of California aren’t so far gone that they will again choose arrogance over achievement.