January 8, 2015

Here's a recent story from the Orange County Register:

The national media has begun to speculate that California U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is going to retire when her term expires in 2016. All available evidence seems to back up this prediction. Off the record, her friends tell reporters that she’s done, and most importantly, she’s stopped raising money and hasn’t bothered to put together a campaign team.

So all of this leads to the obvious question: Who would replace the 74-year-old, four-term senator? Familiar names seem to pop up on everybody’s short list.

Writing in Politico, Alex Isenstadt speculated that potential candidates included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the billionaire hedge-fund manager and environmental activist Tom Steyer. Also mentioned were former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rep. Jackie Speier, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Treasurer John Chaing and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

What’s interesting to me are the possible less-obvious candidates who could really shake the race up.

The first name that comes to mind is former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice, who teaches at Stanford University and serves on the College Football Playoff Committee, has an impressive résumé and has played the political game at the highest levels for years. Most importantly, she has near-universal name identification, which, in a state with over 37 million people, is worth cash money.

Speaking of money, her close ties to the Bush family could prove to be fruitful. A Jeb Bush run for the White House would result in a reemergence of the formidable Bush fundraising machine, which could also be used to bankroll a Rice-for-Senate campaign.

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