More Names for HHS Secretary

By Christine Cupaiuolo — February 9, 2009

The latest buzz is that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is under serious consideration for secretary of Health & Human Services, but the Obama administration is still looking at other candidates, including former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. From the Associated Press:

Sebelius, 60, signed on early with the Obama campaign, backing his candidacy over that of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination and now secretary of state. Sebelius worked tirelessly for Obama’s bid and was a top surrogate to women’s groups, especially after Republicans picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as their vice presidential nominee.

Advocacy groups like the consumer watchdog role Sebelius played as insurance commissioner for eight years before she became governor.

A Kansas Democrat close to Sebelius said she had not spoken about the post in recent days but appeared to remain a strong contender. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not officially authorized to speak for the governor.

Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson has already announced that he’s “ready to serve” if Sebelius gets the appointment.

But over at The Fix, Chris Cillizza notes that “one White House official warns that the reporting [on Sebelius] is getting ahead of itself and that the process remains ‘wide open.'”

“And, given that this week is likely to be dominated by the economic stimulus vote and the unveiling — on Tuesday — of a broad financial rescue plan, an announcement on HHS might not come anytime soon,” adds Cellizza.

Other names being batted around include former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who would bring a doctor’s perspective to HHS — but he also brings some some political baggage from his tenure as Democratic Party chairman (which is funny considering how well the Democrats did) — and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, who, unlike Dean, is close friends with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

But so far DeLauro isn’t talking up her interest in the post.

“When asked whether she had been contacted about the job, DeLauro said, ‘No.’ She said she hasn’t provided any information to the White House for vetting and said she is content with her legislative work — including her pitch for the restructuring of the Food and Drug Administration under HHS,” reports the Hartford Courant.

Writing at the Huffington Post, Adele Stan gives a big thumbs-up to the idea of DeLauro at HHS:

It’s hard to imagine a better pick (especially since my personal favorite, former Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, isn’t likely to be offered the job). DeLauro is smart, knows health issues especially well, is a true feminist, and a passionate advocate for her causes.

The American people could scarcely hope to find a better and more capable advocate for their health and well being than Rosa DeLauro. The appointment of DeLauro would send a strong signal to the feminist community, and the progressive community at large, that the president is ready to truly deal women into the change we all want to believe in.

Other thoughts?

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