Monday, July 30, 2012

California U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

California U.S. Senate

July 30, 2012
99 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

The Golden State is just too blue for Republicans to have much of a chance at a statewide win these days, but GOP voters should perhaps at least take some small solace in the fact that they have a respectable choice to vote for this year.

For the first time, the June California primary was a "jungle" as the new state law allowed candidates of all parties to run together, with the the top two advancing to the November General Election, regardless of their party label. It is a system that is potentially rife with problems, and those, like myself, who believe in a strong two-party system do not like like the set-up.

Still though, things worked out about as well for Republicans as they could. For one thing, they were able to see one of their candidates come in second place, which was not considered a certainty, thus allowing them to fight on for the remainder of the campaign, and the GOP nominee, while a steep underdog is at least a respectable option, and not a fringe candidate whom many others in the party would have either had to denounce or avoid at all costs.

In the massively crowded jungle primary for the Senate, the first place finisher was as expected, Dianne Feinstein, the now 79 year old incumbent who was first elected to the seat 20 years ago. While she had long been considered perhaps the most popular politician in the state, Feinstein perhaps underperformed by finishing just under 50 percent in the all-party primary. Additionally, her recent job approval numbers are nothing to write home about, but still, her incumbency and the overwhelming edge Democrats have in the state will give her another term.

Finshing in second place in the primary, with just under 13 percent of the vote was Republican Elizabeth Emken, who still easily earned a spot in the November election. The GOP candidate is a very telegenic and youthful 49 year old former businesswoman who as the mother of an autistic child, got involved in that cause and eventually became the Vice President for Public Relations of the Austim Speaks organization.

While having the makings of an attractive candidate, who has involvement in a cause that is sadly growing more and more common for families, Emken did only finish back in the pack in a 2010 GOP primary for a competitive Congressional seat. Nonetheless, with all well-known California Republicans declining to take on the seemingly invincible Feinstein, Emken was seen as the best possible option. For a time there was a concern that the second place finisher in the primary might be another Republican, who had slightly more name recognition based on her notoriety of being "Queen of the Birthers" in regards to her wacky insinuations that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and ineligble for the Presidency. Plenty of Republicans from coast to coast breathed a sigh of relief when Orly Taitz finished back in the pack, well behind Emken.

Recent polling shows Feinstein ahead by a solid but not overwhelming margin. It is doubtful though that Emken will be able to come close to keeping up with the incumbent's warchest and is unlikely to have her opponent agree to debate her. Perhaps the experience of a statewide run and increased recognition could help Emken obtain another downballot political office in the state sometime soon.  This year though, All signs point to a non-dramatic win for Feinstein in what will perhaps be the final election of a very long career and continued Democrat dominance of the state.

Emken campaign link:

2012 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 1 D, 1 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 31 D, 38 R