Door opens on Cabinet speculation

Rahm Emanuel, Bill Richardson and Tom Daschle — the names of these Democratic stalwarts have dominated speculation about who will sit in Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama warns of a 'decade of unfair, partisan gerrymandering' in call to look at down-ballot races Quinnipiac polls show Trump leading Biden in Texas, deadlocked race in Ohio Poll: Trump opens up 6-point lead over Biden in Iowa MORE’s Cabinet.

Obama, who ran as a Washington outsider on the theme of change, is considering longtime Democratic players to fill some of his administration’s most important positions.


On Wednesday, reports indicated that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) would leave his leadership post to move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to become White House chief of staff.

Before Emanuel, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), an early Obama backer, was frequently mentioned as the top candidate. What position he may take in the new administration is still the subject of a significant amount of chatter. Daschle also has been mentioned as the next secretary of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department or as a healthcare czar who would be responsible for shepherding a reform bill through Congress.

The Obama campaign announced Wednesday that John Podesta, director of the Center for American Progress; Valerie Jarrett, a top campaign adviser; and Pete Rouse, who is the chief of staff in Obama’s Senate office, would direct the transition team.

But even before the first results came in on Election Day, Washington wondered what an Obama administration would look like.

The popular parlor game has no shortage of players. There are members who see themselves as strong potential candidates for a Cabinet position, congressional staff aides who dream of running an executive department and lobbyists who want to tailor client pitches to their personal relationships with yet-unnamed White House officials.

The Hill compiled a list of other possible candidates for Cabinet-level and other senior positions in the Obama administration:

Several names have surfaced to run the Agriculture Department. Tom Buis, a former aide to Daschle and now the president of the National Farmers Union, is one of them. He is a registered lobbyist, and Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, has said administration officials wouldn’t be put in charge of agencies that they had lobbied. But Buis’s group represents small farmers, not the type of constituency that typically prompts revolving-door worries.

Former Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-Texas), former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) and ex-Iowa Gov. Tom VilsackThomas James VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE (D) are also mentioned.

For attorney general, Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's rally risk | Biden ramps up legal team | Biden hits Trump over climate policy Biden campaign forming 'special litigation' team ahead of possible voting battle Pompeo, Engel poised for battle in contempt proceedings MORE, who was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, is apparently a potential candidate. Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), who, like Obama, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, is also a possibility, although he is reportedly also interested in a run for governor in his home state.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), meanwhile, has also been mentioned for the attorney general slot, as well as for several other top positions.

At the Commerce Department, the odds-makers in town seem to favor Obama finance chairwoman Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE. In addition to her work on the campaign, Pritzker is a Global Hyatt Corp. board member. She is one of several Chicago connections Obama may surround himself with in Washington.

Also mentioned for Commerce is Jason FurmanJason FurmanOn The Money: Five things to know about the August jobs report Dates — and developments — to watch as we enter the home stretch In surprise, unemployment rate falls, economy adds jobs MORE, an economic adviser on the campaign.

For Defense secretary, the smart money seems to be on Robert Gates staying put through the first part of the year. Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedWhen 'Buy American' and common sense collide Hillicon Valley: Russia 'amplifying' concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts MORE (D-R.I.), an Army veteran and current member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is another popular choice — but not now. If Reed took the job, Rhode Island’s Republican governor would choose his replacement.

John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense during the Clinton administration, is also mentioned. Hamre is now the president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Marine Gen. Jim Jones, former NATO commander, is also mentioned as a possibility. Richard Danzig, who served as Navy secretary in the Clinton administration, is apparently interested in the deputy secretary job.

At the Education Department, Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package For the sake of equity, reopen schools — digitally, with exceptions It's up to local leaders: An Iowa perspective on reopening schools MORE, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, appears to be a leading candidate, along with former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt.

For Energy, several lobbyists said Philip Sharp, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and current president of Resources for the Future, is under consideration. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the current chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is also a possibility.

Obama has already said energy policy will be his top priority, and his campaign had no shortage of advisers on the topic. Other frequently mentioned names that could help shape energy and environmental policies include Jason Grumet, Elgie Holstein, Robert Sussman, Todd Atkinson and Heather Zichal.

{mospagebreak}Several people said Kathleen McGinty, former chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, is a leading candidate to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Running the EPA isn’t a Cabinet-level job, but it is nevertheless a powerful position, particularly now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gases. Obama aides said that an Obama-led EPA would do just that if Congress failed to act. Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, is another possibility.

Besides Daschle, Kansas Gov. Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusSpecial counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mike Roman says 3M on track to deliver 2 billion respirators globally and 1 billion in US by end of year; US, Pfizer agree to 100M doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will be free to Americans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former HHS Secretary Sebelius gives Trump administration a D in handling pandemic; Oxford, AstraZeneca report positive dual immunity results from early vaccine trial MORE (D) is mentioned as a possible HHS secretary. The current chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, also gets mentioned as a possibility.


There are reportedly several possibilities for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, including: Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and a member of the 9/11 Commission; Raymond Kelly, New York City police commissioner; and James Lee Witt, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Housing and Urban Development candidates include Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Jarrett, who is from Chicago.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), a former Energy secretary and United Nations ambassador, is mentioned as a possibility to take over the Interior Department. Richardson has apparently expressed interest in returning to Washington, and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Supreme Court vacancy — yet another congressional food fight Trump seeks to turn around campaign with Supreme Court fight On The Trail: Battle over Ginsburg replacement threatens to break Senate MORE (D-Nev.) said he wanted Richardson to be on an Obama Cabinet.

“There is no one more qualified, and I hope he is under consideration,” Reid told reporters on Wednesday.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who wrote a book on the threat posed by global warming, is also in the running for Interior, sources said.

At the Labor Department, Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), the former House majority leader and longtime labor advocate, seems to be a natural fit. Gephardt is now a lobbyist, however.

Richardson also wants to be the secretary of the State Department. Other possibilities are Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Warning signs flash for Trump on debates Divided country, divided church TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month MORE (D-Mass.), an earlier backer of Obama; Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Susan Rice, a former Clinton State Department official and Obama adviser.

For Transportation secretary, Obama may tap Steve Heminger, who is the executive director on the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Frederico Pena, who served in the same role during the Clinton administration, also gets mentioned.

With a $700 billion rescue package on the table, the top job at Treasury may be the most closely watched Cabinet position of them all. Larry Summers, the Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, seems to be a leading candidate, although he could be hurt by his controversial tenure as Harvard president. Tim Geithner, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is another popular pick, as is former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE, a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s and former chief of staff to Robert Rubin when he was Treasury secretary, also has been mentioned.

At Veterans Affairs, former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) is apparently under consideration, along with Iraq war veteran and former House Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth, another Illinois native.