SACRAMENTO -- Dan Schnur, a former GOP political strategist who went on to head the Fair Political Practices Commission and take a teaching post at USC, is preparing for another possible career move: candidate for California secretary of state.
FOR THE RECORD:
The headline on an earlier version of this article incorrectly said Schnur is a Republican; he dropped his Republican Party affiliation in 2011.
Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said he would probably run for the state’s top elections post as an independent candidate. Schnur dropped his Republican Party affiliation in 2011.
His campaign would focus on limiting fundraising for state lawmakers, trying to engage younger voters and "rebuilding the political center in this state," Schnur said in an interview.
"I tell my students that the politicians of both parties tend to set up in the end zones, 100 yards apart," he said. But in politics, unlike football, the work gets done and the victories happen between the 40-yard-lines. That space is virtually empty in California politics, and it needs to be repopulated."
Last year's elections were the first test of new rules that eliminated party primaries except in presidential contests. The top two vote-getters in June, regardless of party registration or lack of it, move to the November ballot.
The effect of the new primary rules, the citizen-drawn voting districts that also kicked in last year and the increase in California voters registering without a party preference are expected to continue playing out in coming years.
To bolster his bipartisan appeal, Schnur has hired Democratic political consultant Darry Sragow, who taught classes with Schnur at UC Berkeley, and Republican Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was governor, to manage his campaign.
Schnur says his race could be a bellwether for state politics.
"If this campaign succeeds, I think you’ll see viable no-party-preference candidates running for legislative offices in two years and top-of-the ticket statewide offices two years after that," he said.
Schnur spent five years as a spokesman for Gov. Pete Wilson before serving as communications director for U.S. Sen. John McCain's 2000 presidential bid. He also was briefly a campaign manager for Richard Riordan's 2002 run for governor and did the same for Peter Ueberroth, who sought the job during the 2003 recall campaign.
For the past decade, Schnur has spent most of his time teaching.
Announced candidates in the secretary of state race include Democratic Sens. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), as well as Republican Pete Peterson, head of a public policy institute at Pepperdine University and campaign finance reform advocate Derek Cressman.
Current Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, must leave office next year because of term limits.