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Elizabeth Emken. (Mark DuFrene/Staff File)

A Danville Republican who made an unsuccessful 2010 House primary bid has thrown her hat into the ring to challenge U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2012.

Elizabeth Emken, 48, has formed a campaign committee, hired campaign staffers and launched a website; her campaign spokesman, Tim Clark, said she wasn't available for comment Monday.

"At this unprecedented time in California's history, an overwhelming majority of voters are in favor of electing a new senator and believe the current incumbent has failed," Emken said on her campaign's website.

Actually, a Field Poll in September found 44 percent of voters weren't inclined to re-elect Feinstein while 41 percent were -- the first time such numbers have been against her. That poll also found a 41 percent job-approval rating with 39 percent disapproval, the lowest ratings of her 19-year tenure.

"Now, more than ever, America needs a new direction in Washington. I believe reduced spending, lower taxation and economic growth go hand-in-hand. If we foster business growth and create opportunities, then our economy will again thrive," Emken said on her website. "The problems facing our state and country today are complex and difficult, but they can be solved with a commitment to fiscal responsibility coupled with a genuine concern and care for families and children."

Emken finished fourth out of four in the 2010 GOP primary in what was then the 11th Congressional District; nominee David Harmer in turn lost the general election to incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.


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Emken earlier in her career "served in management, financial analysis, and corporate operations at IBM," where she helped "streamline operations, eliminate waste, and save the company millions of dollars," according to her Facebook page. More recently, the mother of three -- including an autistic son -- served as vice president of government relations for Autism Speaks, a science and advocacy group. There, Emken led a multistate campaign for autism insurance reform laws; advocated for autism support for military families; and launched the AutismVotes.org website.

Feinstein, 78, won a 1992 special election to the U.S. Senate and then was re-elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006, but her poll numbers portend a tougher fight in 2012. And although Feinstein's campaign reported a $9.2 million bankroll as of Sept. 30, some or even most of that money may have been embezzled by Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee, who was arrested in September by the FBI.

Other Republicans who've filed papers for the Senate race include Keith Holbrook, a senior chemical plant technician from Sacramento County; Dirk Konopik of Rancho Cucamonga, who seeks "to glorify the Triune God of the Bible" and ban abortion; perpetual candidate Timothy Kalemkarian of Westlake Village, who's also running for Congress and president next year; Orly Taitz, a Laguna Niguel lawyer who was a leading figure in the "birther" movement challenging President Barack Obama's eligibility to serve; and Michael Stollaire, a Studio City tech consultant and Tea Party activist.

Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics. Follow Josh Richman at Twitter.com/josh_richman.