Elizabeth Emken won a spot on the California GOP Senate ticket, beating out 22 other candidates to compete in a race against incumbent Dianne Feinstein. Emken has trailed Feinstein consistently throughout the campaign. A former businesswoman and lobbyist for autistic children, Emken’s short political career is eclipsed by Feinstein’s 20 years as a senator.
Emken coordinated advocacy for significant efforts to aid autistic children, including the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, and the Combating Autism Act of 2006 which authorized nearly $1 billion for autism research and intervention. Still, she has presented little challenge to Senator Feinstein thus far: Feinstein has refused to debate Emken, and Emken hasn’t been able to make up ground since Feinstein took a lead early on.
Emken is running on a standard GOP platform, unpopular in California’s liberal stronghold cities, and is down 17 points, according to a recent poll from USC Dornsife. How does Emken run an election against an opponent who won’t engage in debate? Is there hope for the underdog in elections like this one?
Elizabeth Emken, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate running against Dianne Feinstein