via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Iowa's Patty Judge also mentioned
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fledgling Obama administration is already the most Congress-centric in
Lawmakers rule in Obamaland. The President- and Vice
President-elect (Joe Biden) are both former senators. The next Secretary
of State is widely expected to be current Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was a House Democratic
kingpin from Illinois. Former Rep. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) is expected
to be tapped to be Commerce Secretary. And former Senate Majority Leader
Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will head Health and Human Services (HHS).
So what about the USDA Secretary? The Congress-centric
formula would suggest current House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson
(D-Minn.), who of late has gone out of his way to say he doesn't want
the job (that is always a plus to at least being a potential candidate
for the job), rather than former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) who
I am told hired a public relations firm to tout his name.
If Peterson is tapped, he would take it because it is very difficult
to turn a president down -- especially a president that is calling
for change, and Peterson wants change -- USDA reorganization (what
better way then to do it from the inside), mandatory animal identification,
etc. And who better to help signal farm policy budget cuts in the
years ahead than the guy who had a very big role in the latest farm
bill? However, other observers note that Collin has "wrinkled
his nose" at the potential limitations that come with the job
-- that when the President makes a decision on an issue, there is
no "wiggle" room for the cabinet secretary.
If Peterson were tapped, an outside-Washington person would
very likely be tapped for Deputy Secretary at USDA. Another
person on the so-called short-list for Ag Secretary could fill that
role if she wanted it -- Patty Judge, currently Lt. Governor of Iowa
and a former long-time Ag Secretary for the State of Iowa.
If Peterson exits the House, Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) is currently
Vice Chairman of the House Ag panel.
Comments: If the USDA Secretary
choice is at or near the last tier of Cabinet posts announced, President
Obama will look at the geographic mix of the Cabinet selections previously
announced, along with the ethnicity mix, and that could help determine
who among the short-list becomes his actual choice to lead USDA.
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