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CongressNow: Possibilities Abound for Obama Cabinet

With Democrats having been out of the White House for eight years, there is no shortage of Cabinet-ready personnel for a President Barack Obama to choose from. Here are some names being floated for domestic Cabinet appointments. National security and economic posts are covered in other articles in this series.

Attorney General. With revelations of an affair presumably taking widely touted former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) out of the picture, the AG landscape is wide open.

Eric Holder Jr., a member of Obama’s vice presidential vetting team, is a strong contender. Holder served as a judge and then as deputy attorney general during the final years of the Clinton administration and would be the first black attorney general. The fly in the ointment is Holder’s role in Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

Jamie Gorelick, another former deputy attorney general under Clinton, could be in the mix, especially given that her service on the 9/11 commission could provide a contrast to Bush Justice Department officials’ stance on torture. However, the troubles in the mortgage industry — including with her former employer, Fannie Mae — pose an obstacle.

Other Clinton administration veterans with a shot include Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, who was deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council; Drew Days, who served as solicitor general; Walter Dellinger III, who served as acting solicitor general and assistant attorney general; and former solicitor general Seth Waxman.

Obama could also look to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D). Napolitano served both as Arizona’s attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Arizona, and her stance on immigration is tough enough to get elected in Arizona without being too anti-immigrant for the Democratic mainstream. Some speculate that she might head the Department of Homeland Security instead. However, if she takes either post, she would be succeeded as governor immediately by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer, the top Republican gubernatorial contender for 2010.

Obama could also tap Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) if she loses a tough battle for a second term in November. Gregoire, a former state AG, delivered a key primary endorsement for Obama at a time when her state’s Democratic Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, were going with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Among sitting Senators, freshman Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) is an intriguing candidate, with prior experience as both the U.S. attorney and attorney general in his home state. Since winning his Senate seat in 2006, Whitehouse has criticized the department from his seat on the Judiciary Committee.

Then, of course, there is the potential blockbuster pick: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Health and Human Services Secretary. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), a key adviser to Obama, is often mentioned. Daschle, however, might face scrutiny for his work with clients of his law and lobbying firm, Alston & Bird. Daschle is also touted for White House chief of staff.

Clinton, with her long expertise in health care, is a natural to run HHS if she wanted the job, but it’s not clear that it would be an improvement over the Senate for planning a future presidential run.

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