The rumor mill is churning out names as Washington watches to see who President-elect Donald Trump will select for to fill his Cabinet.
The people Trump picks will not only be tasked with running entire departments, they’ll be the best indication of how Trump intends to govern and which of his many (and sometimes contradictory) policy positions he intends to pursue.
Here are picks announced so far:
President-elect Trump has tapped Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Trump has chosen Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo for the job.
White House National Security Adviser
Trump has picked Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn for national security adviser.
The following is a list of likely contenders and will be frequently updated as new information becomes available.
Secretary of State
Mitt Romney, a longtime Trump critic who recently met with the president-elect, is a candidate for the job.
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s loyal supporters; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton are also thought to be under consideration.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker has long been mentioned as a contender.
Also still in the mix: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year-veteran of Goldman Sachs who now works as the chairman and chief executive of the private investment firm, Dune Capital Management, is a leading contender for the job. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, who is set to meet with Trump on Thursday, is another possibility for Treasury Secretary, as is JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.
Jonathan Gray, the head of global real estate at Blackstone Group and a Democrat, is also being considered for the position.
Secretary of Defense
Retired Marine General James Mattis is emerging as a leading candidate for the job. Trump called Mattis “impressive” after meeting with the general on Saturday.
Former George W. Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) are in the mix. Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) Clinton CIA director Jim Woolsey and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) have also been mentioned as possible candidates.
Retired four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane told NPR that he was offered the job, but declined.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is emerging as a candidate for the job.
Trump’s presidential transition team is eyeing venture capitalist Robert Grady, a George H. W. Bush White House official with ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is alsoseen as a contender for Interior Secretary.
Meanwhile, a person who spoke to the Trump campaign told POLITICO that aides have also discussed tapping Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary, though she is increasingly seen as a long-shot pick. Trump has said he’d like to put Palin in his Cabinet, and Palin has made no secret of her interest.
Trump aides are also eyeing Mead Treadwell, the former lieutenant governor of Alaska, for the job, a source told POLITICO.
Other possible candidates include: former Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, who chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 2003 to 2007; former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.
There are several names being considered by Trump aides for Agriculture secretary, according to multiple sources familiar with the transition. The president elect has a deep bench to pull from with nearly 70 leaders on agricultural advisory committee.
The most controversial name on the transition’s current short list is Sid Miller, the current secretary of agriculture in Texas, who caused a firestorm just days ago after his campaign’s Twitter account referred to Clinton as a ‘c—.‘ Miller said it was a staffer mistake and apologized.
Other names include a sitting governor, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and three former governors: Dave Heineman (Nebraska), Sonny Perdue (Georgia) and Rick Perry (Texas). Also in the conversation are Charles Herbster, a Republican donor and agribusiness leader who chairs Trump’s agricultural advisory committee, and Mike McCloskey, a dairy executive in Indiana.
Bruce Rastetter, a major Republican donor in Iowa, and Kip Tom, a farmer who ran for Congress in Indiana this year but was defeated in the primary, are also among those being considered.
Other top Republican insiders expect that Chuck Connor, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Don Villwock, president of the Indiana Farm Bureau and Ted McKinney, the current director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture in the Pence Administration, are also likely to be in the running for the post.
Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, a Trump economic adviser, and investor Lew Eisenberg, the Republican National Committee finance chair, are seen as Trump’s leading contenders for the job.
Dallas-based investor Ray Washburne is also up for the job, sources said.
Dan DiMicco, the former CEO of steelmaker Nucor Corp and a Trump trade adviser, is another possibility, though he could also be tapped as U.S. Trade Representative.
Fox News host Eric Bolling is also discussing taking a position in the Commerce Department, sources told POLITICO.
A possible private sector pick is Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito and Red Burrito.
Attorney Peter Kirsanow could also be a candidate for Labor secretary, according to a source connected to the transition team. Kirsanow serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 2006 to 2008. He met with President-elect Trump on Sunday.
Health and Human Services secretary
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee and an early Trump backer, is the leading candidate for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is another possible candidate for the job.
Ben Carson, who had been mentioned as a possible HHS Secretary, has said he will not serve in the Trump administration.
Housing and Urban Development secretary
Trump tweeted recently that he is “seriously considering” tapping retired neurosurgeon and former GOP primary rival Ben Carson as HUD secretary.
Robert Woodson Sr., an adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan, is also being considered for the job.
Names being circulated include Pam Patenaude, the president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and former New York Rep. Rick Lazio (R).
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who just lost reelection bid, is interested in becoming Transportation Secretary. He told POLITICO recently that he’s talked to top Trump aides about the job, adding he’s received “encouraging” signs about his candidacy.”
Other possible candidate: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory; James Simpson, the former commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Transportation and the former head of the Federal Transit Administration during the George W. Bush administration; Mark Rosenker, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), who had initially called for Trump to step aside for Pence, then reversed.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster told POLITICO recently he’s not interested in the job.
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm has long been seen as a leading candidate for Energy Secretary. Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire who has been a friend of Trump’s for years, has been the leading influence on Trump’s energy policy during the campaign. But Hamm has said he plans to stay at Continental.
If Hamm passes, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a Trump energy adviser, could be offered the job though he’s begun to douse cold water on that idea recently.
Other names floating near the top of the mill include retiring Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; venture capitalist Robert Grady, who is also thought to be in line for Interior; James Connaughton, a former utility executive who was President George W. Bush’s head of White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Kristine Svinicki, the sole Republican on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is in the running for a high-level post at the Energy Department like undersecretary — a No. 3 job — but a source close to the Trump transition said she’d be considered for secretary as well.
Another possibility is William Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution who has worked on education matters for the Trump transition team. Evers worked at the Education Department during the Bush administration and served as a senior adviser to then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
Also in the mix: Tony Zeiss, a former president of Central Piedmont Community College, one of the largest community colleges in North Carolina. He was president for more than 20 years before retiring in July.
Other potential candidates include: Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, now the president of the Purdue University System; Gerard Robinson a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute focused on education policy; Tony Bennett, the former Florida Commissioner of Education and the former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Hanna Skandera, the New Mexico Secretary of Education; and education activists Betsy DeVos; and Kevin Chavous.
Veterans Affairs secretary
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is a candidate for the job. He recently met with Trump to talk about the position.
House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, who’s retiring from the House and was an early Trump backer, is also a potential candidate.
Homeland Security secretary
House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul has said he’s interested in becoming Homeland Security Secretary. “I’ve expressed my interest, and I think the process is taking place,” McCaul told POLITICO recently.
Kris Kobach, a Trump immigration adviser who is the Kansas secretary of state, is interested in the top Homeland Security post, according to a source tied to the transition team. Kobach met with Trump on Sunday.
Another potential pick: Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s transportation security panel.
A long-shot candidate: David Clarke, the conservative Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis. Clarke has cultivated a devoted following on the right, and he spoke at the Republican National Convention in Ohio, declaring, “Blue lives matter.” Christie is also seen as a possible DHS secretary.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator
Leslie Rutledge, the attorney general of Arkansas and a lead challenger of EPA regulations in the state, is emerging as a leading contender for the job. Rutledge recently met with members of Trump’s team at Trump Tower.
Other possibilities: retiring Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; Jeff Holmstead, a former Bush EPA official; and Venture capitalist Robert Grady, who was an environmental adviser for George H.W. Bush.
Other potential candidates: Joe Aiello is the director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Safety and Quality Assurance; and Carol Comer, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, who was appointed by Mike Pence.
Myron Ebell, a climate skeptic who is running the EPA working group on Trump’s transition team, is also seen as a possibility to lead the agency. Ebell, an official at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has come under fire from environmental groups for his stances on global warming.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Eric Ueland, a veteran Republican Capitol Hill aide and top staffer on the Senate Budget Committee who is working on Trump’s transition team, is seen as a possible candidate to lead the OMB. Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is also seen as a potential OMB chief.
Kathryn A. Wolfe, Bryan Bender, Jeremy Herb, Connor O’Brien, Joanne Kenen, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Ian Kullgren, Ben White, Darius Dixon, Esther Whieldon, Marianne Levine, Caitlin Emma, Jennifer Scholtes, Lauren Gardner, Lorraine Woellert, Ellen Mitchell, Rachana Pradhan, Ben Weyl, Cory Bennett and Nahal Toosi contributed to this story.
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