When a public official has been in office as long as
Feinstein, a California Democrat who first joined the Senate after winning a special election in 1992, may be an entrenched incumbent, but she's also an effective one. Her Republican opponent,
Over the years, Feinstein has brought a deliberate and detail-minded approach to her duties. Although she at times has disappointed her party's liberal base — notably with her vote in favor of the war in Iraq — she has compiled a generally progressive voting record. She voted for
She has been a key participant — and a thoughtful, rational one — in efforts to reform the country's broken immigration system. Her focus has been on ensuring an adequate labor supply for California farmers, proposing a pilot program under which undocumented farm workers could continue working in this country legally if they pay a fine, meet their tax obligations, have clean criminal records and commit to working in U.S. agriculture for five years. That so-called AgJOBS legislation would be a down payment on a comprehensive bill that would recognize the importance of immigrants' labor and the moral imperative of bringing them out of the shadows.
As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein has worked cooperatively with the
Emken's agenda consists of Republican boilerplate, including opposition to Obamacare, to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants and to higher taxes on wealthy Americans. She opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. On foreign policy, Emken is basically a blank slate, though here too she has recycled GOP talking points, such as the notion that President Obama is insufficiently pro-Israel.
Feinstein's age — she turned 79 in June and would be 85 at the end of another term — serves as a subtext for her challenger's campaign. When Republican voters in Indiana refused to renominate 80-year-old Sen.