Dan Schnur

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Dan Schnur
Dan Schnur.jpg
California Secretary of State
Former Candidate
Elections and appointments
Last electionJune 3, 2014
Campaign $$669,009
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sAmerican University
Place of birthMilwaukee, Wisconsin
ProfessionEducator, communications specialist
Personal website
Campaign website
Dan Schnur was a No Party Preference candidate for California Secretary of State in the 2014 election.[1][2] He sought one of two possible nominations in the blanket primary on June 3, 2014. The general election took place November 4, 2014.

A former GOP political consultant, Schnur switched his party affiliation from Republican to "No Party Preference" in 2011.[3][1]


Schnur is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a degree from American University.[3]

Schnur is the Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. He also works as an Adjunct Professor at Berkeley. As an educator, Schnur's repertoire of subjects includes political communications, leadership and California public policy. In addition to his teaching work, Schnur previously served as Chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.[3]

Schnur managed former Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth's 2003 gubernatorial campaign and was chief media spokesman for Pete Wilson during his tenure as California Governor. Schnur's professional campaign talents have also been enlisted on the presidential level; He was hired by the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and John McCain (in 2000) in the role of communications specialist.[3]


Dan Schnur for California Secretary of State 2014 - Posted to YouTube 4/8/214


See also: California secretary of state election, 2014

Schnur ran as a No Party Preference candidate for election to the office of California Secretary of State.[1][4] He sought one of two possible nominations in the June 3 blanket primary. The general election took place November 4, 2014.

California Secretary of State, Blanket Primary, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngAlex Padilla 30.2% 1,217,371
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngPete Peterson 29.7% 1,194,715
     Democratic Leland Yee 9.4% 380,361
     Nonpartisan Dan Schnur 9.2% 369,898
     Democratic Derek Cressman 7.6% 306,375
     Republican Roy Allmond 6.4% 256,668
     Democratic Jeff Drobman 4.4% 178,521
     Green David Curtis 3% 121,618
Total Votes 4,025,527
Election Results California Secretary of State.

Race background

Primary election

Stances on top-two primary system

One of the key issues of the 2014 secretary of state primary was the signature and filing requirements for minor party candidates under California's top-two primary system. Under new qualifications implemented with the top-two primary system, minor party candidates must collect 10,000 signatures to waive a filing fee equal to 2 percent of the first year's salary for state offices or 1 percent for members of Congress. Prior to implementing the top-two system, the number of signatures required to waive that fee was 150, so most minor parties opted to file petitions.

After launching their campaigns for California Secretary of State, California State Senator Alex Padilla (D) and ex-state Sen. Leland Yee (D), who ultimately had to withdraw from the race after he was arrested in March 2014, expressed concerns about ballot access limitations for minor parties under the top-two primary system. Yee opposed the top-two system during his time in the California State Senate and Senator Padilla said his office was looking into legislative solutions.[5][6] Green Party candidate David Scott Curtis campaigned against the top-two system while independent candidate Dan Schnur, who was designated "no party preference" on the ballot since California’s Proposition 14 took away candidates' "independent" label option, was in favor of the system. Democrat Derek Cressman openly opposed the system but did not focus on the issue during his campaign.

Also in the race, Democrat Jeff Drobman and two Republicans, Pete Peterson and Roy Allmond, had not made their stances on the top-two system known prior to the primary.

Candidates excluded from debate

A California non-profit association called the Sacramento Press Club incited the ire of Green Party candidate David Scott Curtis after failing to invite him and two other 2014 secretary of state candidates to participate in an April 23 debate.[7] With seven candidates in the running, the Sacramento Press Club said they wanted to restrict the size of the event by only including "top contenders in a crowded field," whom they determined to be Pete Peterson (R), state Sen. Alex Padilla (D), Dan Schnur (I) and Derek Cressman (D). By the time Curtis learned of his exclusion, back-to-back Field Polls had been released showing Curtis ahead of both Schnur and Cressman. Absent an immediate explanation or apology from the Sacramento Press Club, Curtis used social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to broadcast his outrage over what he considered a conspicuous display of political bias by the tax-exempt organization. Curtis also filed an IRS investigation request related to the group's tax-exempt status.[8] A press club representative characterized Curtis's actions as a "tirade of insulting and threatening social media posts" against the organization. The Green Party hopeful questioned what such selectivity meant for the state of 'journalism' in an attempt to highlight the significance of the snub. Curtis also noted that some of the major-party candidates were already known for courting media attention. Schnur was known for furnishing the Capitol press, whose members make up a large portion of the Sacramento Press Club, with sound bites and other material. Schnur was one of the two candidates to receive invitations to the debate hosted by the press club despite trailing Curtis in the polls. Joe Mathews, the California editor at Zocalo Public Square, wrote, “Of course, I’m for Dan Schnur for Secretary of State. I’m in the media, and he’s our candidate...He’s the favored candidate of our state’s political media, which feeds us polls and old, bogus narratives about the state.”[7] Meanwhile, Northern California's chapter of The Society of Professional Journalists honored Leland Yee with its Public Official Award shortly before Yee's arrest forced him to exit the race.[7]

Yee Arrest

On March 26, 2014, Democratic candidate Leland Yee was arraigned on seven charges of corruption and firearms trafficking. Yee, along with 25 others, was involved in an FBI operation to uncover those suspected of illegal activities involving drugs, guns and arranging murder for hire. If convicted, Yee would face up to 20 years in a federal prison. He was released on a $500,000 unsecured bond. Yee's alleged illegal activities stemmed from his debt acquired in a failed run for San Francisco mayor in 2011 and money raised for the Secretary of State race. Authorities believed Yee accepted money for official actions performed while in office. These actions included urging an agency to accept a software contract from a specific vendor in exchange for $10,000, writing a Senate proclamation to honor the Chee Kung Tong group for $6,800 and introducing a medical marijuana businessman to state legislators working on the issue for $21,000. Unknown to Yee, all of these paying contacts were undercover agents. In other attempts to raise money, Yee allegedly promised to help other undercover agents obtain illegal guns from an international arms dealer.[9]

Despite no longer being in the race, Yee's name remained on the primary ballot. This was due to a little-known election rule barring candidates from withdrawing their names from the ballot after they file.


Schnur's campaign was endorsed by the Editorial Boards of The Sacramento Bee, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Bakersfield Californian.[10][11][12]


California Secretary of State
Poll Derek Cressman (D) Alex Padilla (D)Pete Peterson (R)Dan Schnur (NPP)David Scott Curtis (G)Leland Yee (D)OtherUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
The Field Poll (with Yee)
March 18-April 5, 2014
The Field Poll (without Yee)
March 18-April 5, 2014
AVERAGES 2.5% 13.5% 28.5% 4% 4.5% 4% 0.5% 42.5% +/-6 252
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Schnur is available dating back to 2014. Based on available campaign finance records, Schnur raised a total of $669,009 during that time period. This information was last updated on February 11, 2015.[13]

Dan Schnur's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2014 California Secretary of State Defeated $669,009
Grand Total Raised $669,009


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Dan Schnur's donors each year.[14] Click [show] for more information.


Schnur is married to Cecile Ablack, a consultant and former U.S. Department of Commerce Director under President Clinton. Schnur and Ablack have two children together, Rob and Tessa.[3]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Los Angeles Times, "Former GOP aide Dan Schnur preps independent run for secretary of state," December 22, 2013
  2. Ballot Access News, "Dan Schnur, Former Campaign Consultant and Advisor to California Republican Politicians, Will Run for Secretary of State as an Independent," December 22, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Dan Schnur for Secretary of State 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed May 15, 2014
  4. California Secretary of State, "Voter Guide: Voluntary Campaign Spending Limits for Candidates for Statewide Elective Office," accessed March 28, 2014 (dead link)
  5. CalNewsroom.com, "Padilla, Yee looking at 3rd party ballot access issues," February 20, 2014
  6. Calnewsroom.com, "In statewide debut, top-two primary blocks third parties from June ballot," February 14, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 CalNewsroom.com, "Sacramento Press Club excludes Green Party candidate from Secretary of State debate," April 20, 2014
  8. CalNewsroom.com, " Re: Exclusion of Green Party Candidate from Secretary of State Debate," April 20, 2014
  9. The Sacramento Bee, "FBI: California Sen. Leland Yee took bribes, trafficked guns," March 27, 2014
  10. The San Francisco Chronicle, "Chronicle recommends: Dan Schnur for secretary of state," May 1, 2014
  11. The Sacramento Bee, "Endorsement: Schnur, Padilla best candidates to reform California’s political process," April 27, 2014
  12. The Bakersfield Californian, "Schnur's autonomy suits Secretary of State," April 19, 2014
  13. Follow the Money, "Schnur, Dan," accessed February 11, 2015
  14. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015