The announcement that Hilda Solis would be departing as Secretary of Labor added to the list of vacancies of high-level positions in the Administration. Such turnover is nothing new for presidents who have been elected to a second term.
Thus far President Obama has announced his picks for four of the openings--Defense (former Sen. Hagel), State (Sen. Kerry), Treasury (Jack Lew) and the CIA (John Brennan). Still pending are Labor, Commerce, EPA, the White Chief of Staff and Director of OMB. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that he will leave the Administration next month, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to depart in March. While giving no specific time frame, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has also stated that he would leave the cabinet. Questions remain about Energy Secretary Chu, although there is speculation that he will announce his departure soon. Attorney General Holder, HHS Secretary Sibelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shineski have indicated that they will stay on.
The Administration is facing a wall of questions on diversity as the four individuals who have been nominated are white men. Look for the remaining appointments to restore some of the balance that marked Obama's first term Cabinet.
A brief rundown of the current open positions and commonly mentioned frontrunners--
Current names under consideration include Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Small Business Administration head Karen Mills and Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ursula Burns.
Christine Gregoire has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Lisa Jackson as has Jackson's deputy, Bob Perciasepe.
Possible replacements include Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, former Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste, former Clinton pension and welfare assistant secretary Olena Berg Lacy, or perhaps others from the House of Representatives such as Rosa DeLauro or Linda Sanchez.
Some of the contenders from a very long list to replace Chu include former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, Christine Gregoire, current Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman as well as is Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Names being circulated include two former Republican lawmakers--Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). Both served on their respective chambers Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. In addition, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell are also considered leading contenders.
White House Chief of Staff
It appears that the replacement for current Chief of Staff Jack Lew has boiled down to Denis R. McDonough, the current deputy national security adviser in the White House, and Ronald A. Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and before that to Al Gore.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Contenders include OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, are also seen as contenders.