Diane Feinstein Runs For 4th Term vs. Danville Republican - NBC Southern California
2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Diane Feinstein Runs For 4th Term vs. Danville Republican

Polls show that "Di-Fi" should win easily.



    It's almost a given that Diane Feinstein will be re-elected for her fourth sixth-term seat as U.S. senator representing California.

    The 79-year-old San Francisco Democrat is facing a little-known challenger: Elizabeth Emken, a 49-year-old Republican from Danville, a small suburb near Oakland.

    Still, for "Di-Fi" - as the veteran senator has been nicknamed - winning another election should be a "cakewalk," said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University and an NBC political consultant.

    The latest polling showed that Feinstein had 51 percent of the vote, while Emken had 32 percent. Feinstein last won her seat in 2006 with a commanding 59.4 percent of the vote. She also beat out 23 challengers in the June primary election, including five from her own party.

    Major mainstream newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have all endorsed Feinstein, too. Feinstein's campaign had raised nearly $14 million through Sept. 30, campaign records showed, while Emken had raised slightly more than $700,000.

    Feinstein is probably best known for these roles: chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, supporting same sex marriage and immigration reform, and working to improve California's infrastructure.

    Emken, meanwhile, is a political novice.

    According to her campaign, she is the former vice president for government relations at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group for autism. Her 20-year-old son, Alex, has autism spectrum disorder. She was an efficiency and cost cutting expert at IBM and graduated from UCLA in 1984 with dual degrees in economics and political science. She has campaigned on a platform against excessive debt and "greater accountability."

    She has been endorsed by the National Tax Limitation Committee president and founder, Lew Uhler and the conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

    Emken hasn't resisted taking shots at Feinstein - specifically for her age and how it relates to the use of modern technology. In a statement emailed to NBC this week, her campaign called Feinstein an "out-of-touch entrenched incumbant," and described Emken as a "fighter and problem solver."

    In January, Emken accused Feinstein of being out of touch with the 21st century for failing to use Facebook or Twitter. "If you want to know what she's doing in Washington, you'll have to mail her a letter or send her a telegram," Emken sent out in a fundraising letter.

    The next day, Feinstein, who already had a Twitter account, but had never used it, tweeted five times, including a link to the State of the Union address.

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