Calif. US. Senate candidates blast GOP endorsement

May 16, 2012

By Dave Roberts

In California, there are three certainties: death, taxes and the re-election of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. In 2006, she shellacked Dick Mountjoy by 24 points. In 2000, she trounced Tom Campbell by 19 points.

The grande doyenne of California Democrats has been in the Senate for 20 years and will turn 79 next month. She’s up for re-election and, short of serious illness or death, it’s likely she’ll still be in the Senate when she’s 85 and 91 if she wants.

So it’s not exactly a shock that prominent Republican congressmen like Darrell Issa, David Dreier and Dan Lungren have chosen to sit this one out. That has left the field of challengers to 14 Republicans, five Democrats and four minor party candidates — all of whom have zero to little electoral experience or name recognition. In a crowded field of nobodies, getting their party’s endorsement provides an advantage in winning the second spot in the new top-two primary system and its ticket to the general election in November.

The top two system was instituted by Proposition 14 in 2010.  Under it, the top two winners of June 5 primary will face off in November. No other candidates for U.S. Senate will be on the ballot. Assuming Feinstein is the top vote getter, that means just one other person will face her on the ballot, likely a Republican. Third party candidates will be shut out.

The function of the political parties has been reduced to official endorsements.

In March, the California Republican Party endorsed more than 100 candidates for a variety of offices, including for the U.S. Senate. “As the party prepares to be a vigorous contender in California’s first top two primary, we seek to promote the most competitive candidates in the field this primary season,” said Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in the press release announcing the endorsed candidates.

Elizabeth Emken won the GOP nod as the most competitive candidate to face Feinstein. However, the Danville autism advocate’s only electoral experience is finishing fourth out of four candidates in the 2010 Republican primary in Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney’s district. Emken received 16.7 percent of the vote. In a district that winds through four counties, Emken didn’t even win her own Contra Costa County, finishing second, just 270 votes ahead of the third-place finisher.

Such a poor showing might be understandable if a candidate were running a token campaign, placing her name in contention for publicity’s sake but doing little campaigning. But Emken ran full out in 2010, spending $456,404 — more than $200,000 of it from her own pocket. That equates to $40 per vote. At that rate Emken would need to raise more than $200 million to best the more than 5 million votes Feinstein gathered in 2006. As of March 31, Emken had raised just more than $300,000. Feinstein’s campaign treasury had more than $7 million on hand.

‘Most competitive candidate’?

So what makes Emken the “most competitive candidate” in the eyes of state GOP officials? One factor is that her senior communications advisor is Mark Standriff, who in January left his position after two years as communications director for the California Republican Party. “Mark has been a tireless member of our senior staff and dedicated himself to improving the CRP’s communications efforts by helping me reach more voters in more corners of our state,” California GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a statement upon Standriff’s departure.

In an email interview, I asked Jennifer Kerns, who replaced Standriff as the California GOP communications director, whether it was helpful for Emken in getting the endorsement to have Standriff on her staff. Kerns did not address the question, saying simply, “He was free to consult with any campaign once he departed the CRP.”

Said Standriff in a phone interview, “The only thing it helped is that I am a professional communications director and somebody who has worked on campaigns for years and was able to put together a comprehensive package. I contacted no board members. Frankly, I wish I had that kind of power.”

Standriff said Emken’s experience two years ago in one district’s partisan Republican primary is not relevant to today’s statewide, top-two primary.

“You have to take everything that happened pre-Prop. 14 and throw it out the window,” he said. “All of these other candidates seem to think this is still a partisan primary, and it’s not. It’s open to everybody. That’s why you will see 24 different names on the ballot. So the Republican Party said, ‘Who do we think is the most electable, who has the best chance to get through June 5th and take on Dianne Feinstein?’ Everybody had the chance to present their financial package and show how much money they will be able to raise and present their positions. She’s the only one who has ever gone to Washington D.C. and stood up and said, ‘Enough is enough.’ And that’s a big thing.”

Kerns said Emken’s experience as an autism lobbyist was a major factor in her endorsement.

That was echoed by Jeff Corless, Emken’s campaign manager. He said, “She, unlike the rest of the candidates, not only has business experience and experience helping those truly in need, but also understands the legislative process from day one when she goes back to the Senate, because of her experience in advocacy for autism.”

Endorsement process

Perhaps it’s a case of sour grapes, but several Republican candidates who did not get the endorsement or chose not to participate in the endorsement process, with its $500 buy-in for consideration, have harsh words for the way things went down.

“I believe the Republican Party has committed fraud in its endorsement of Elizabeth Emken by doing so without providing an opportunity for all candidates to be heard,” said Dennis Jackson, an aerospace general manager from Rancho Cucamonga. “Due to the open primary, there were no party debates or any type of debate that was televised.

“I have been a voting Republican since 1968 and would destroy Elizabeth Emken in a debate or in a comparison of backgrounds that would best serve this nation. However, I was never contacted by the Republican Party about any meeting to review my candidacy, policies or background. In making the endorsement in such a manner, the party is playing king-maker and insulting the intelligence of the voters as well as attempting to silence the voice of the candidates that they never even took the time to meet. The party politics seem more in line with the Bolsheviks than the Founding Fathers.”


Also ticked off in Rancho Cucamonga is MBA student Dirk Allen Konopik, who said, “The California Republican Party’s leadership, to include Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, has been a constant disappointment; from their continuous failure to support viable candidates, to the unethical decision to charge U.S. Senate candidates $500 just to consider them for the CRP endorsement. I chose not to pay. It is now very clear to me, after ramping up our U.S. Senate campaign since January 2011, why the Democratic Party controls California. It’s because the CRP is inefficient, ineffective and corrupt. In my opinion, I would rather have the California Federation of Republican Women lead the CRP.”

Also critical is Orly Taitz, the Laguna Niguel attorney who has become known for challenging President Obama’s citizenship.

“The nomination process was a complete fraud, and a number of the candidates are considering suing the corrupt 24 board members,” said Taitz. “Two candidates … talked to the Chair of the Board Tom Del Beccarro and another board member, who told them that the meeting and discussion was just a formality, the decision was already made. So, the Board has collected several thousand dollars from candidates under false pretenses. They used this money to have a nice weekend at a nice hotel and announced the predetermined decision. They defrauded the candidates and the voters.”

Another unhappy candidate is Rick Williams, a Los Angeles attorney.

“I believe the California Republican Party acted improperly by engaging in a process to endorse one candidate in the United States Senate race from a field of 14 good Republicans running for the seat,” he said. “I declined to participate in their disgraceful process. I realized it was a sham and wanted nothing to do with it. The decision as to which candidate should represent the Republican Party against Dianne Feinstein is for voters to make — not a tiny group of insider political operatives at the state party who were trying to tilt the playing field.”

Nachum Shifren, a Santa Monica rabbi, believes the state party snub of his campaign may be an asset: “My chances are helped, since the GOP mafia and good ol’ boys club will never nominate or support a true conservative that threatens the status quo,” he said. “I am having success in precisely distinguishing myself from the other RINO candidates and those that simply won’t take on the difficult issues.”

Kerns dismissed the criticism of the endorsement process, saying, “We provided every candidate the opportunity to be heard, in writing, by phone, and in person. This was to ensure the fairest process.”

If party officials had decided to base their endorsement on the candidate with the best electoral experience, they would have chosen Greg Conlon, a Burlingame CPA.

“I probably have the best chance because I ran statewide in 2002 for state treasurer and received over one million votes in the primary and three million votes in the general election against Phil Angelides, an incumbent,” said Conlon. “Therefore, even though it was 10 years ago, some will remember the name and vote for me now.”

The GOP endorsement may ultimately be irrelevant to the outcome of this year’s election. It’s likely that whoever wins the primary from among the 14 largely unknown and inexperienced Republican candidates will become a sacrificial lamb led to the Feinstein slaughter in November.

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  1. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 16 May, 2012, 09:12

    The Democrats would win this U.S. Senate seat even if they nominated Charles Manson.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 May, 2012, 09:25

    I wonder how much the taxpayers spend on that dye-job Crimestein does on her hair?

    The woman is almost 80 years old. 6 more years = 86 years old. Time for the old warhorse to be put out to pasture. Human brains lose thought and judgment capacity with age. She’s too old. She sends young American boys 8000 miles across the ocean to die for her oligarch corporate owners. She give huge bailouts to crooked Wall Street goons. Her husband got a big FDIC contract to manage foreclosures after DiFi authored a bill to give FDIC a big multi-billion bailout. And DiFi hasn’t even sat on a financial committee??? Why would she author a financial bill for the FDIC??? NO INVESTIGATION FROM THE SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE!!! Her good friend Bab Boxer happened to chair the Senate Ethics Committee back at that time!!! HAH! THE GAME IS RIGGED, FOLKS!!! FROM A to Z!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer
    Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer 16 May, 2012, 09:33

    Dave— I LOVE the lead on your story– the first graph was bloody funny and a great way to start my day!

    Reply this comment
  4. Dirk Allen Konopik
    Dirk Allen Konopik 16 May, 2012, 10:58

    Mr. Roberts,

    This is the most well written and researched article on the 2012 CA U.S. Senate campaign I have read to date. I thank you for having the journalistic integrity to write this article for the people of California. Apart from your last sentence, I greatly appreciated your article. Thanks again Mr. Roberts. God bless you and yours sir.

    Very Respectfully,

    Dirk Allen Konopik
    Christian, Veteran, American
    2012 Republican U.S. Senate Candidate for CA

    Reply this comment
  5. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 May, 2012, 11:11


    Most of the people who write for CWD are above reproach in their research and thorough professional journalistic skills. You will never see what you see here in the mainstream media, sir. Although CWD does avoid some choice topics here that really deserve to be discussed and debated – the topics they do choose are outstanding and their detailed analyses are incredibly complete. That’s why I come here, Dirk. I actually learn stuff. And the BS is minimal. You found a good site, my friend. Stick around.

    Reply this comment
  6. Dirk Allen Konopik
    Dirk Allen Konopik 16 May, 2012, 11:16

    Roger that sir.

    Reply this comment
  7. Bill-San Jose
    Bill-San Jose 16 May, 2012, 11:49

    Being blind to corruption is what Democrats do best.

    As long as no one brings up reality, the dream of living a corrupt life via one of our fave politicians still lives.

    Salut! to the Socialist Soviet Repulic of Kalifornia!

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 16 May, 2012, 12:10

    Bring back carpet bagger Devore for his next beat down!

    He got a little McCain and Simon in him. Perfect!

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer
    Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer 16 May, 2012, 12:40

    I love it when u guys eat your young.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 16 May, 2012, 13:11

    Neverr my guy. Another Umberg!!

    Reply this comment
  11. Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer
    Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer 16 May, 2012, 14:27

    You liked Tom Umberg???????

    Reply this comment
  12. rabbi shifren
    rabbi shifren 16 May, 2012, 14:31

    Thanks for your excellent article. Long after the occupiers, Communists, union thugs, radical Hispanic and Gay agendas have succeeded in destroying the most beautiful state in the Union, it will be recorded that the corrupt and shameless Republican Party put the last nail in our state’s coffin..

    This pathetic excuse for a “party” literally fiddles while Rome burns….

    Such a shame.

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 16 May, 2012, 15:22

    Bruce Hirschenson nearly beat Difi in that first senate race…………

    Reply this comment
  14. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 May, 2012, 15:37

    “Bruce Hirschenson nearly beat Difi in that first senate race…………”

    Wasn’t he the one that Crimestein’s flunkies caught walking out of a strip club by LAX and got him on camera??? Talk about underhanded dirty crap. Walking out of a strip club in 2012 would be a total nothing burger. Today they cheat on their wives while in office and stay in office. Look at Villagarosa. He’s destined for high places in DC if the long-legged mac daddy is reelected.

    Reply this comment
  15. Bob
    Bob 16 May, 2012, 16:25

    Let’s face it. Crimestein will live forever and be in the Imperial Senate all that time, or at least it sure seems that way.

    But seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still in the Imperial Senate a decade from now.

    Reply this comment
  16. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 May, 2012, 16:41

    Bob, it’s just another example of how ignorant the average voter is and how crooked the electoral system is. It all comes down to MONEY. That’s what really frightens me. People have very short memories and most don’t pay any attention to what’s really going on. And the bought-off media conceals information from citizen voters that would hurt their favored candidates. As they did with Obama in 2008.

    All the cards are stacked against the common citizen, Bob. There is little truth, little justice and very very little transparency.

    ‘With liberty and justice for all’. Sure. Pull the other thumb now!

    Reply this comment
  17. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 16 May, 2012, 18:44

    What candidates do we have to consider?

    I think a Tonto-like candidate brings wisdom, diversity and proven security experience to deal with lots of masked guys in the legislsture.

    Reply this comment
  18. Bob
    Bob 16 May, 2012, 20:00

    “Bob, it’s just another example of how ignorant the average voter is and how crooked the electoral system is.”

    I tell ya Mr. Bub, I do have some respect for the people of the former Soviet Union.

    Yup, those commie [email protected] you were going to one day fight!

    At least they could see what a sad, sad farce their gummit was and they let it collapse.

    If the Amerikan gummit was in the same situation the average AmeroConned sheeple would beg for politicians like CRIMEstien to save them and hand over whatever remained of their civil liberty and their economic freedom, all the while waving their little Amerikan flag and chanting “USA! USA!”

    Reply this comment
  19. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 16 May, 2012, 20:20

    Man youse guys are cynics….kinda sad…..alot of stress huh?

    Reply this comment
  20. Bob
    Bob 16 May, 2012, 20:32

    Geez Teddy, what ya doin’ hangin’ around here? Don’t you have some poodles to kill or a toilet to clean?

    Reply this comment
  21. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 16 May, 2012, 20:43

    “I tell ya Mr. Bub, I do have some respect for the people of the former Soviet Union”

    The average soviet citizen who lived in the city were much smarter and aware of how they were being gamed than the average urban American. They didn’t have freedom of speech over there at that time but they joked about it with one another. Few went to the polls on election day. The soviet government had to coax them in with free cavier, other delicacies and cognac (true story). The smart soviets purchased hard assets right before Peristroika when the currency was devalued. The village people who trusted the government really got screwed. The pensioniers REALLY got screwed. Many lost everything and ended up destitute. Soviets were really pretty smart people (except those who lived in villages). Their education system was much better than ours is. They didn’t tolerate any BS. You mess up in school and you go to reeducation camp.

    As long as all the leeches continue to collect their government transfer payments (over 50% of the population) in America everybody will remain obedient and peaceful. Once that stops all hell breaks loose. That’s what I think.

    Reply this comment
  22. JKEYES
    JKEYES 17 May, 2012, 08:33

    Madam Feinstein is owned by the Environmental groups, who have a lot of money to keep Ms Feinstein in office. But it is time for her to retire and be a novelty at Pier 39.
    Vote Emken for U.S Senate.

    Reply this comment
  23. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 17 May, 2012, 09:52

    She reminds me of a madam who runs a brothel. I actually have more respect for the brothel manager. At least when you turn your money over you know exactly what you get in return! 😀

    Reply this comment
  24. Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer
    Ted Steele-- Poodle slayer 17 May, 2012, 10:44

    Man guys– I think that Sen Feinstein has been just great! Thank the lord that we have some clear anti waste of time war minds in the Congress.

    Reply this comment
  25. Charles Hill
    Charles Hill 29 May, 2012, 19:48

    Well they’re doing it again! The Republican have an opportunity to find someone strong enough, popular enough, politically shrewd enough to take advantage of the changing environment in California politics; and what do they do? They don’t even encourage everyone that shows up to demonstrate what they have to offer. I’ve seen it election after election. There is a chance that Fienstien could be beaten this time. All that needs to happen is make the environment for challengers to be dynamic and thorough in presenting themselves to the public. Then when one is found among them all who proves he has what it takes to survive……..back him / or her. Noooo. The do their rigging the front runner from the beginning with no vetting with the public. This party has to change. Until they do, Fienstien and Democrats like her will always win in California.

    Reply this comment

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