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Could Condoleezza Rice capture the governership in California?

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered a memorable speech at the RNC on Wednesday night, and while it didn’t shed much light on the specifics of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy, it did fuel speculation for Rice’s political future.

Rice has kept a relatively low profile, even during the Bush Administration. Though she has come out to endorse a few candidates, she’s mainly relegated herself to academia, book tours and the golf course, enjoying a slight media bump by becoming one of the first two women ever admitted to the all-male Augusta National Golf Club.

Whether you agree with her politics or not, most people can respect Rice for her political acumen and her ability to navigate political circles. Some Republican operatives are even talking about her running for office in 2016, including commentator Ron Nehring, the former chairman of the California Republican Party, who says she’d be a perfect fit to govern the Golden State.

"I'd love to see her run for governor," he said. "I think she has a lot to bring to the table, she's a compelling figure, and I think that all of those facts were on display during the convention."

Nehring said that he has not discussed the prospect with Rice and she has not given any indication she'll run, the idea has gained traction.

"By no means am I predicting that she would run for office, but that doesn't change the fact that, boy, there are many people in the party who would love to see her do it, and perhaps she could be persuaded," he continued.

Nehring posited that as a possible frontrunner for the Republican Party, Jerry Brown would face an "incredible challenge to the likes of which he has never seen before in public office."

According to him, Rice may appeal to independent voters because she harbors views contrary to the stereotypical Republican mindset, like immigration, for example.

"We must continue to welcome the world's most ambitious people to be a part of us. In that way, we must stay young and optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that protect our borders, meet our economic needs, and yet, show that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants," she spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Open to a path of legalization during the Bush administration, Rice could be attractive to California's growing Latino electorate.

"The bottom line is that people want to see Condoleezza Rice continue to play a role in the Republican Party and in our government to the degree she is willing and able and interested to do so," Nehring said. "And that can take whatever form she's ultimately comfortable with and may not take at all. I think it would be a great loss to the party, as well as the country and the state, if a leader of her caliber is not engaged in public service in some way."


While having a conservative back in the driver’s seat in California would be a dream come true for the GOP, is it a realistic possibility? With a dwindling Republican voter presence here, what fighting chance does a Republican have on the state level? In 2010, Jerry Brown defeated Meg Whitman by over 10 percentage points. What do Republicans need to do to recapture Sacramento? What characteristics comprise your ideal conservative candidate?


Ron Nehring, Republican strategist and commentator, former Chairman of the California Republican party

Frank Stoltze, KPCC reporter