The floodgates of conjecture opened wide with the announcement by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer that she would not seek re-election in 2016. Potential senatorial candidates from the Democratic and Republican Parties made it into news reports.

But with California now working under the top two primary system an independent candidate could also challenge to get one of the top two positions in a primary race.

Is it possible for a registered independent candidate to succeed?

“No question about it,” said Dan Schnur, Executive Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. Schnur ran a well-chronicled campaign as an independent for Secretary of State in the June election finishing fourth. He said the greatest obstacles for an independent candidate are voting habits of the electorate and familiarity with the candidate.

Schnur believes an independent candidate with name recognition, great resources, and significant news coverage of a high profile race, such as the U.S. Senate, could succeed.

“There is such great hostility toward politics and politicians that an independent with resources and visibility and a media platform could win,” Schnur said.

I asked Schnur if he was interested in taking a plunge into the senate campaign pool as an independent.

He made it clear that he would stay out of the water this time around.

I had lunch yesterday with two other independents who have the resources to mount a statewide campaign. Both Molly Munger who financed a statewide ballot initiative two years ago and Bill Bloomfield who spent millions as an independent running unsuccessfully for a West L.A. congressional seat laughed off the suggestion.

So is there a potential candidate to fill the bill?

Schnur, in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday, floated the name of former California first lady Maria Shriver as a potential senatorial candidate. Shriver has the name ID through her media work and family history and access to resources.

A little later consultant Karen Skelton, who I’ve been told has worked with Shriver, noted in a tweet that Shriver is now a registered independent.

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