Birthdate: April 4, 1963
Birth Place: Bellflower, CA, United States
Residence: Danville, CA
Elizabeth Emken was born in Bellflower, Calif., in the Los Angeles suburbs, and now lives in Danville. She earned a bachelor's in economics and political science from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1984.
For more than a decade Emken has been an autism activist, most recently as vice president for government relations at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group. Previously, she spent a dozen years working in management, financial analysis and corporate operations for IBM.
Emken ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for California's 11th District U.S. House seat, finishing last among four candidates in the Republicans primary, with 17 percent of the vote.
Elizabeth and her husband, Craig, have three children. Her son has autism spectrum disorder.
Republican Elizabeth Emken finished second in a field of 24 candidates in California's June 2012 U.S. Senate primary, taking 13 percent of the vote and earning the chance to take on the grande dame of California politics, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein, who easily topped the field with just under 50 percent of the vote, finished with an approximately 1.7 million-vote edge over Emken.
Emken faces daunting challenges in the November 2012 general election, with no clear path to victory in her first run for statewide office. The little-known Republican who finished last in a GOP congressional primary in 2010 is challenging one of California's enduring politicians in a state that has grown increasingly favorable for Democratic candidates. The party holds every statewide office and a comfortable edge in statewide voter registration.
Seeking her fourth full term, Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, will hold all the conventional advantages in the race, including name recognition, financing and on-the-ground organization. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has shown no sign he intends to contest the state, which has not given a Republican presidential candidate a victory since 1988.
With voters across the nation in a sour mood and unhappy with Congress, Emken has presented herself as a fresh face eager for a change of direction at the Capitol, contrasting herself with the long-serving Feinstein, a career politician.
"We need new energy back in Washington," Emken says, faulting Feinstein for the climbing national debt. California's ailing economy gives Emken a ready line of attack, and she has taken positions against the 2010 health care reform bill and the 2009 economic stimulus package, both supported by President Barack Obama.
On her website, Emken says there should be a "top to bottom review of every agency" and that "those that have no possibility of returning value for invested tax dollars should be discontinued." She would "freeze" what she calls "job-killing regulations and taxes" imposed in recent years.
Her party's tough stand on illegal immigration could be problematic in a state with a quickly growing Hispanic population. She opposes abortion rights, often a vote-killer for statewide candidates in the left-leaning state. And in a state where Republicans are in danger of dipping below 30 percent of registered voters, the numbers and the voting history are not in Emken's favor.
Source: Associated Press