COAST CITIES — Tracy Emblem, a writs and appeals attorney from Escondido, has entered the race for California’s 50th Congressional District.
While her name may not be as recognizable as those of incumbent Brian Bilbray or perennial Democratic candidate Francine Busby, Tracy Emblem believes the time is right for a dark horse to challenge both of the big parties’ favorite candidates in 2010.
“We’ve got to have leadership up there,” Tracy Emblem said. “A representative works for all the people, not just their party people, their special interests.”
Running as a Democrat, Tracy Emblem favors a balanced budget and said she will target government waste in Iraq, subsidies for nonproducing farmers and companies that ship job overseas. Emblem also pointed out that California pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal aid, effectively subsidizing other states. She said that she would try to fix this imbalance.
“I’m going to work really hard to bring back our share of our funds to San Diego County,” Tracy Emblem said. “The funds don’t need to be shipped out to Wasilia, Alaska.”
Although a self-described fiscal conservative, Tracy Emblem supports federal economic stimulus spending, which she sees as an investment, not a one-time expense. The money, she said, keeps people employed, which in turn results in taxable revenue and sales.
Tracy Emblem also said she thought universal healthcare makes economic sense. Coverage for everyone will ultimately be cheaper, and more preventative care visits will cost less than expensive emergency room trips, she said.
Regarding the touchy subject of illegal immigration, Emblem said that people are not always rational. She noted that, particularly in border counties, racial prejudice often drives anti-immigrant sentiment.
“People forget that the Chinese and the Irish were immigrants,” Tracy Emblem said. “They built our railroads and our infrastructure. We’ve always depended on immigrants to build our country.”
Tracy Emblem said she opposes illegal immigration but supports some sort of recognition and taxation for immigrants already in the country who are working and have set down roots. This would increase government revenues and prop up the sagging housing market, she added.
On civil rights issues, Tracy Emblem supports the separation of church and state and equality in marriage but characterized “culture war” issues as a sideshow.
“I’m hoping that in the next couple of years we get some of these divisive hate issues out of the way and we move onto real issues,” Tracy Emblem said.
No Democratic candidate has won the 50th District since it was created in 2000, but the Emblem staff is optimistic. Bilbray only won by 5 points in 2008, and Emblem is confident his support is eroding. Tracy Emblem’s daughter and campaign manager, Erin Emblem, said the key swing votes are in the inland urban centers. They are lower-income conservatives who, nevertheless, voted for Barack Obama in 2008; issues voters who want a strong leader, not the same old politicos from the coast, Erin Emblem said.
“I’m definitely not going to be in the rank and file,” said Tracy Emblem. “I’m very outspoken. That’s probably why the party is pushing my primary opponent.”
This fresh-faced approach applies to the Emblem campaign staff as well. In addition to tapping her daughter to run the campaign, Tracy Emblem has specifically recruited interns with short political resumes.
“With a contested Democratic primary, it’ll be a lot better for our squad to bring in fresh faces and youth so we don’t have to worry about anyone contaminating our files,” Erin Emblem said.
What the interns may lack in political connections, they make up for in enthusiasm. Kevin Kraus, a college student from Orange County, hopes to take lessons learned in this race to topple an incumbent back home. Rancho Bernardo-based Hailey Eklund is proud to be part of a broad political movement.
“Just the fact that Obama’s in office, I think it represents change,” Ecklund said. “So we should change this place around and make it less conservative and more democratic.”
Tracy Emblem’s staff does not consist solely of amateurs, however. Erin Emblem was a field manager for the California Democratic Party, and high-profile consultant Steve Ybarra will be on the team as well. Tracy Emblem’s own career in state politics goes back to the mid-1990s.
More information on the Tracy Emblem campaign is available at www.tracyemblemforcongress.com.