What to Watch: California Senate Race
The San Francisco native has served in the Senate since 1992 and currently serves as Chairwoman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Feinstein has said her most recent legislative successes include stricter regulations on automobile fuel standards, and she most recently launched an investigation into skyrocketing fuel prices to determine if the increase is legally sound.
A long and distinguished career in the Senate gives Feinstein a significant advantage over any contender. According to a California Business Roundtable/Pepperdine University poll, she has a 23-point lead over her rival, Elizabeth Emken. In fact, Feinstein does not consider Emken much of a rival at all and has not agreed to any debates during this electoral season.
The UCLA graduate and former IBM manager first became involved in politics through autism-related advocacy. The eldest of her three children, Alex, has autism spectrum disorder. In 2007, Emken helped secure legislation to ensure insurance coverage for autism-related disorders and in 2008, began working as a lobbyist for Autism Speaks.
Emken's senatorial campaign is seen as a long shot -- both because of Sen. Feinstein's entrenched incumbency and Emken's difficulty in fundraising. As of June 30, Emken's campaign had cash reserves of $27,000, a stark contrast to Feinstein's $3.1 million.
Emken has focused on her role as a mother and an autism advocate in order to resonate with voters, but as a Republican in a state that leans so heavily left, her party affiliation often eclipses the universality of her message.