- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

She’s been out of public life for years, she’s never run for office and she’s a Republican, but Condoleezza Rice is now the first choice of California voters to replace Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016.

A Field Poll released Wednesday showed that the former Bush administration official leads a list of 18 potential Senate candidates, with 49 percent of likely voters saying that they would be inclined to vote for her and 39 percent not inclined.

Ms. Rice edged Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat and the Senate contest’s only declared candidate, with 46 percent saying they were inclined to support her and 37 percent not inclined.

The next 10 prospective candidates after Ms. Harris were Democrats, no surprise in the heavily Democratic state. Placing third was Rep. Loretta Sanchez, followed by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Rep. Jackie Speier, Rep. John Garamendi, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Unfortunately for California Republicans, Ms. Rice has shown no interest in running, with her chief of staff telling The Hill last month that a Senate bid is “not even a consideration.”

The former secretary of state and national security adviser, Ms. Rice is now a Stanford University professor and senior fellow at the Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution.

She led all prospective candidates among those with no party preference, white voters, Southern California voters, female and male voters, and came in second to Ms. Harris among Northern California voters, according to the poll.

The only voting bloc that didn’t place Ms. Rice first or second was Hispanic voters. Mr. Villaraigosa led the field among Hispanics, followed by Mr. Padilla and Ms. Harris.

Ms. Rice also received the most support of any Republican candidate from Democratic voters, 31 percent of whom said they were inclined to vote for her. Among GOP voters, 74 percent said they were inclined to support her, putting her well ahead of former state Sen. Phil Wyman with 51 percent.

The poll also found that large numbers of voters are still open-minded about the race and inclined to support any number of candidates. For example, seven of the prospective Democratic candidates received at least 50 percent support from Democratic voters.

“The results indicate that at this early stage voters appear open to supporting a wide range of candidate possibilities,” said the Field Poll analysis.

The San Francisco-based polling firm surveyed 972 likely California voters from Jan. 26-Feb. 16 using live interviewers by telephone in six different languages, with a sampling error of +/- 4.5 percent.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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