Redwood City-Woodside Patch
by Paul Stewart

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the clear favorite to take retiring Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat according to a recently released Field Poll.

Big problem: Rice has stated she isn’t seeking the office… but guess who’s rising in the esteem of the electorate? Our own Rep. Jackie Speier.

The poll listed Rice as the favorite among likely voters with State Attorney General Kamala Harris coming in second. Following thereafter were Rep. Loretta Sanchez; California Secretary of State Alex Padilla… and Jackie Speier. They came in with 64 percent, 61 percent, and 58 percent support, respectively, among party loyalists. (Note: Also mentioned positively were Rep. John Garamendi and former U.S. Rep. Jane Harmon.)

So, at the risk of pre-destiny, it sounds like it’s going to be Rice, Harris or Speier, though Sanchez has hinted she may indeed seek the Senatorial nod.

Pundits, however, are saying that with former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa no longer a threat to her campaign, Harris is the prohibitive choice as Boxer’s inevitable successor. (BTW: Wouldn’t you like to meet a pundit some day? I would.)

But uncertainties abound. A significant faction of the state Democratic Party is still yearning for a Latino to get in the race. (SEE: Sanchez and Padilla.) And as the first major candidate for Boxer’s seat, Harris will face a prolonged period of scrutiny of her record by the media and political adversaries. Plus candidates like Speier have far more experience in D.C. than Harris – a significant factor in the minds of the CA electorate.

For example, one of those pundits observed, “She (Harris) has as much of a lock on this as Hillary Clinton had on the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.” Oops.

But how they will get elected is as important as who since only one in nine California voters speaks English (or limited English) and often has trouble finding election materials in their native tongue. This according to a new study from the Greenlining Institute.

The report found that online voter registration isn’t proving useful to voters with no or limited expertise in English. In fact, from April to November of 2014, just 1.4 percent of online registrations were in a language other than English. (This, no doubt, makes the ‘learn English’ crowd happy.)

Of course, not many in the mainstream population (much less the ‘No Hablo Inglis’ folks) knows that Californians can register to vote online in nine languages. Thus the turnout for Asian and Latino voters, the report found, is running between 11 and 15 percentage points lower than white and black voters.