DG MARTIN COLUMN: Former presidential contenders in a new cabinet?

Published 10:11 am Monday, November 2, 2020

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Who will be serving in the new presidential cabinet?

If Donald Trump turns out to be the winner of the Nov. 3 election, there may be changes, but probably merely a continuation of the shifting sands of the last four years.

However, if Joe Biden is the winner, there will be a total turnover in the cabinet.

D.G. Martin

Last year about this time I wrote that many of the then 20 Democratic candidates were really not running for president. Instead, they were auditioning for high-level jobs in the new president’s administration.

It turns out I was right.

For instance, I wrote about candidate Pete Buttigieg, “Most of us had never heard of him until a few months ago. But we have learned that he is smart, quick on his feet, articulate, trustworthy, speaks several foreign languages, and has been a Rhodes Scholar and a soldier. He is cool and persuasive. He could be Secretary of State or ambassador to the United Nations.”

Buttigieg is now being considered for the U. N. position and for several other jobs including Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

Susan Rice was not mentioned in my earlier column because she did not run for president. However, she was considered for Biden’s vice presidential running mate. In the Obama administration, she served as national security advisor and ambassador to the United Nations. Her experience and her close relationship with Biden make her a likely choice for Secretary of State or another high-level national security or intelligence position.

I noted that Andrew Yang, a respected business leader, had made a good impression as a candidate for president. As a result, he is being mentioned for several possible cabinet positions. Yang has talked about a “trickle-up economy” and a future automated economy, so automated that human workers would be unnecessary. As Secretary of Commerce he could bring his futurist thinking to the practical world.

Julian Castro served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President Obama. I thought the new president might ask him to take that position again. More likely he will become Secretary of Homeland Security.

I opined that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “may have staked a claim for the top job at the Environmental Protection Agency.” Sure enough, he is being considered for that post and for Secretary of Energy.

In last year’s column, I suggested that the U.S. senators who were running for president (Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet) would be reluctant to give up their current high-status positions for any other job. Also, I thought, a new Democratic president would not want to appoint anyone whose Senate seat would be filled by a Republican governor.

Maybe I was wrong, For instance, Elizabeth Warren may be lobbying for appointment as Secretary of Treasury even though the Republican governor of Massachusetts would appoint her successor. She gets good grades for mastering the complicated American financial system. She is an informed advocate for policies to restrain the powers that run that system. Thus, she would be a controversial appointment. Another former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is on the list of possible Treasury secretaries.

Other current senators such as Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker are in the mix for new positions, showing how wrong I was about their aspirations.

No North Carolinians competed for the Democratic presidential nomination, but some could be in the running for high-level positions in a new administration: Secretary of the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen to lead the national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams for Secretary of Education.

For a detailed listing of contenders for positions in a new administration see: https://static.politico.com/ad/85/838ffd064be981705f24dc406813/potential-biden-wh-administration-officials-sp.pdf

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch” Sunday 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesday at 8 p.m. and other times.