Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Senate poll shows voters inclined toward Condoleezza Rice, Kamala Harris

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican, leads a pack of 18 potential contenders for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s open seat in a new Field Poll.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican, leads a pack of 18 potential contenders for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s open seat in a new Field Poll. The Associated Press

For all the talk of a massive Harris vs. Villaraigosa throwdown for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s open seat, California voters are most enthused about a candidate who has shown no interest in running.

Nearly half of respondents in a new Field Poll said they are inclined to support former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican, in the 2016 race, compared to 39 percent who said they are not inclined to support her. That puts Rice at the front of a pack of 18 potential contenders included in the survey, despite the fact that she has said it is “not even a consideration” that she might run.

Rice does slightly better than Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, the only announced candidate so far, whom 46 percent of voters were inclined to support. Only 35 percent were inclined to support former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, another prominent Democrat still playing coy about his intentions. Higher support went to Democratic Reps. Loretta Sanchez of Santa Ana, Jackie Speier of Hillsborough and John Garamendi of Walnut Grove, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Christopher Cadelago has more in his story from today’s paper, including links to the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert, and the publicly released results of the poll.

VIDEO: Another day, another revelation in the race to replace Boxer, Dan Walters says.

BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP: The battle over a potential tuition increase in the University of California system has mostly taken place between UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown. Now Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen are firing their opening shots with a zero-based budgeting process that will require the university to justify of all its costs next year. The review begins with a hearing of the Assembly Budget Subcomittee on Education Finance, 1:30 p.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol. Yesterday, UC finally submitted to the Legislature its long-delayed mandated report on the cost of instruction. The university said it spent an average of $21,800 to educate undergraduates and $37,100 to educate graduate students in the 2012-13 academic year under a “narrow definition” of instruction, and $29,200 per undergraduate and $55,800 per graduate student under a “broader definition.”

CAT’S IN THE CRADLE: Since last year’s effort to establish universal pre-kindergarten for California four-year-olds was scaled back to focus on low-income kids, Democrats have been pushing to expand the program. The first proposal comes from state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, will introduce legislation to create new child care slots for poor working parents, 10 a.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

SHOT IT THE DARK: Like the buddy comedy you never knew you wanted, Boxer and state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, are teaming up to promote their pro-vaccinations bills with a tour of the YMCA Head Start program in Emeryville at 11:30 a.m. Boxer has introduced federal legislation that would require all children attending Head Start preschools across the country to be vaccinated, while Pan is pushing a bill to remove California’s personal-belief exemption for vaccinations.

PUMP IT UP: Last fall, California took the controversial step of regulating groundwater, becoming the last state in the West to do so. Local agencies will now oversee groundwater extraction in order to prevent overdrafting, moving away from the historic practice of allowing property owners to pump any water underneath their land. The state Department of Water Resources is in charge of several components of the legislation, including the development of guidelines for sustainability plans that local groundwater basins must adopt by 2020. The agency will provide an initial overview of implementation during the afternoon session of the California Water Commission’s meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at the State of California Resources Building on 9th Street.

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT: Voting access advocacy group Future of California Elections hosts a two-day conference on expanding voter participation, starting at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Padilla will deliver opening addresses, and sessions will examine registration reforms, language and disability access, reaching young voters, improving the voter guide and expanding the balloting period. Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, and Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, are also scheduled to participate.

LIKE A PRAYER: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento marks the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday liturgy, 8:30 a.m. on the north steps of the Capitol, led by Bishop Jaime Soto.

CELEBRATIONS: It’s a triple birthday. Best wishes to Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who turns 51, Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who turns 60, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, who turns 67.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.