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Out of the Cabinet -- Where Do They Land?



What's next for (clockwise from top) Chuck Hagel, Kathleen Sebelius, Tim Kaine and John Kerry now that a spot in the Obama Cabinet seems unlikely?

The clamor among Democratic office-holders to be a part of President-elect Barack Obama's Administration is so great that, inevitably, some get left behind.

What does the future hold for the elected officials who -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- don't make the cut for the Cabinet? Here's a look at the biggest names and what the future might hold for them.

Kathleen Sebelius: The governor of Kansas was an early endorser of Obama and was mentioned as a vice presidential pick. The assumption when Obama won was that she would end up in his Cabinet but her surprise decision over the weekend to remove herself from consideration for any opening means that her future is now less clear. Sebelius, a popular two term governor, will be heavily recruited by Democrats to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Sam Brownback (R) in 2010. While she would clearly be the strongest potential candidate for Democrats, she faces some daunting history: no Democrat has been elected to the Senate from Kansas since 1932.

Tim Kaine: Throughout the veepstakes, Kaine allies insisted that while he would love to be vice president he was not looking for a way out of his current job as the governor of Virginia -- a gig, they argued, he loves. With Kaine seemingly set on serving out his term through 2009, he faces a number of electoral roadblocks. He is barred from seeking a second (consecutive) gubernatorial term (Virginia is the only state in the country with a one-term limit) and his path to the Senate is blocked by two Democrats -- Mark Warner and Jim Webb -- ensconced in those seats. Kaine could wait for an appointment in the second round of Obama Cabinet picks (maybe as the second attorney general although Gov. Janet Napolitano might have something to say about that) or hope that either Webb, up for reelection in 2012, or Warner, up in 2014, decide to step away from their seats. Still, that's a long time to wait.

John Kerry: It's no secret that Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, would have liked to be secretary of State. With that post going to Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, it appears that Kerry will spend the rest of his political life in the Senate. Those familiar with his thinking insist Kerry is perfectly happy in the Senate particularly given that he will assume the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee at the start of the 111th Congress -- a lifelong dream. (Kerry famously testified before the committee in April 1971.)

Chuck Hagel: The outgoing Nebraska Republican senator was seen as a potential pick as secretary of Defense for Obama given his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq. That job no longer open, expect Hagel to remain in the mix on foreign policy issues -- particularly how to responsibly end the war -- and examine whether or not the Republican party might be ready for a candidate in 2012 who opposed the war in Iraq. Hagel has made no secret of his interest in running for national office and would only be 66 on election day 2012.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 8, 2008; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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Comments

Political leaders and top civil& military officials relieved/retired must be encouraged to work for environment protection across the globe as the entire human civilisation is on the verge of extinction owing to global warming and climate change.Another option for them is to work for uplifting poorer and weaker sections,disabled ,old,destitute and even for children deprived from education and basic rights.Service of mankind is service of god and tose who are free and they have fulfilled their basic responsibilities towards family and children may opt to serve humanity.

Posted by: raonarayan2005 | December 10, 2008 6:09 AM | Report abuse

This comment, I think, is well worth reiteration. Thanks, Opa2, for this:

"Most of the people mentioned are lawyers and eligible for the Courts. Not necessarily the Supreme Court but there will be hundreds of court vacancies that Obama needs to fill while "the iron is hot." In the bext two years he has an opportunity to appoint judges to lower courts that will make the appellate courts more friendly to people of little means. Bush has packed them with right wing conservatives. It's time to reverse the process."

The impact of years of doctrinaire so-called "law and order" judges on the criminal justice system, among other things, has been to steadily increase the prison population generally, and the incidence of wrongful convictions of innocent people. The Fourth Amendment is pretty much a dead letter...the government has so many ways around it that it has become meaningless. It IS time to take another look at these things.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | December 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with what margievogel posted (December 9, 2008 9:33 AM), but for one exception: the Presidency IS a political office; "playing" politics is necessary to attain it, and to execute its functions successfully. When making an appointment to office, the ability to fullfill the duties of that office may be, and should usually be, the FIRST consideration, but it would be naive to expect that to be the only one... the tactical or strategic consequences of a particular selection may be very important, too... perhaps, in some instances, the most important (as when several candidates are fully qualified). I'm not sure which considerations weighed most heavily in President-Elect Obama's nominations for various offices, but I think we must expect a competent politician to consider the political ramifications of his appointments.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | December 9, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Sebilius can run for the Senate seat, if she loses, the Administration will find her a position somewhere.

Kerry is better off staying in Congress. I can't see him in an administration position. Obama needs someone in the Senate to help him get his foreign policy measures passed and Kerry can do that.

Obama thinks strategically. So far his strategy has worked. His choices for his administration show his pragmitism and strategic planning.

So what if you don't get the top job at an agency good and intelligent people are needed at the Deputy and Undersecretary levels.

Hagel could be the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as Gates is staying on indefinitely. Once we're out of Iraq Gates will probably step down and Hagel will then slide into the position. Then Obama can replace one Republican in his administration with another Republican.

Kaine could also land a Deputy Secretary position.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | December 9, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Pres.-elect Obama has made a mistake in not choosing Senator Kerry for SOS- a role he could have done so much with and was more than qualified for. Unfortunately, politics as usual something I am sorry to see Obama involved in. Although, there is always time down the road to correct this error. Right now though, I am excited that Senator Kerry will be chairman of the SFRC. He will take this charimanship to new levels and in this position he will be his own man- not having to speak in terms of Obama's ideas only. After all, it was Senator Kerry who was right about the war in Iraq in 2004 and has lead the way boldly, on what needs to be done and where we need to be on foreign policy matters. Frankly, a man with vision and passion for Foreign policy, such as Kerry, should have be a shoe in for the SOS position. Obama ran on much of Kerry's ideas and platform and I think less off Obama now because he played politics with the important position of SOS and overlooked someone who could have been an asset to his cabinet with his knowledge and loyalty. Senator Kerry came very close to being our president in 2004 and he deserves more consideration and better treatment than he has gotten from the Obama team and the media.

Posted by: margievogel | December 9, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

If BHO names a seasoned CIA pro as Director of CIA, he could still afford to name Hagel as DNI. I think, but do not pretend to know, that Hagel could perform that job well.

Any other opinions out there about this?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 9, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Oddly enough both Barack Obama's mother and Tim Kaine's mother were from El Dorado, a small town just outside Wichita, Kansas.

Posted by: Corey_NY | December 9, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Most of the people mentioned are lawyers and eligible for the Courts. Not necessarily the Supreme Court but there will be hundreds of court vacancies that Obama needs to fill while "the iron is hot." In the next two years he has an opportunity to appoint judges to lower courts that will make the appellate courts more friendly to people of little means. Bush has packed them with right wing conservatives. It's time to reverse the process.

Posted by: Opa2 | December 9, 2008 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Most of the people mentioned are lawyers and eligible for the Courts. Not necessarily the Supreme Court but there will be hundreds of court vacancies that Obama needs to fill while "the iron is hot." In the bext two years he has an opportunity to appoint judges to lower courts that will make the appellate courts more friendly to people of little means. Bush has packed them with right wing conservatives. It's time to reverse the process.

Posted by: Opa2 | December 9, 2008 12:50 AM | Report abuse

"vilsack, rendell, and strickland will all seek and likely win senate seats in 2010."

Vilsack, maybe, depending on what Grassley does; Rendell and Strickland, no. Rendell might run against a generic Republican, but Specter's his buddy. Strickland is committed to being governor (no interest in being VP this year, for example).

"and napolitano could still eye the mccain seat in Az"

Won't happen; she'd have to leave the DHS in under a year. If she was going to run for Senate she'd have stayed in Arizona.

Posted by: SeanC1 | December 8, 2008 8:27 PM | Report abuse

thelaw1 asked, "What in Obama's life, record or past gives you any indication he has a clue about running a business, let alone the country?"

Well let's see. He won an election in a democracy, so he's able to persuade people. He was thoroughly vetted by a vicious right-wing trashing machine which failed to derail his powers of persuasion.

Running a government in a democracy requires a different skill set than running a corporation. Powers of persuasion effective, not just on an elite board of governors, but on average citizens, is a prime qualification. Not getting swift-boated, whitewatered, chappaquiddicked or watergated is the next most requisite skill, and so far it seems that the president-elect fits that bill as well as he fits the "persuades a majority" bill.

I'd be a bit hesitant, under present circumstances, to offer corporate CEO's as the be-all and end-all of leadership.

Enron was the leading edge of what's become a torrential cascade of revelations about the extreme selfishness and extraordinary incompetence of almost all who hold that position.

Perhaps thelaw1 can point me to a current corporate CEO he'd like to hold up as a model to be admired by the 401-k holding public.

Posted by: officermancuso | December 8, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

John Kerry has hit the ceiling, he knows that. Foreign relations is just fine for him.

Sebelius wants a Senate seat, and is our only hope of taking Kansas.

The real question is Chuck Hagel. We do not want to run against this guy in four years (actually two). Assuming Gates will leave in a year or two is one option, but I would much rather replace Gates with Jack Reed from Rhode Island. We need to bring him (Hagel) to our bipartisan table, and prevent him from running.

As for Tim Kaine, I would like to see him appointed to a federal circuit court judgeship somewhere (possibly the 11th down south) in preparation of a Supreme Court justice slot opening up. He certainly has the legal chops to do so.

This cabinet certainly has its share of egos, and I predict at least one, possibly two going two to four years and out. Chief Economic advisor to Obama Summers may not fit in as well; he is certainly known to speak twice, then think once. There a ton of wild card possibilities here...let's all stay tuned.

Posted by: kimba1 | December 8, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I hope Kaine gets a nice position -- he's a good guy and good executive.

Posted by: MShake | December 8, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Chuck Hagel did undermine Presidnet Bush enough, but he would not be able to be a scapegoat the way Gates is setup to be.

Sebelius would leave Kansas vulnerable to Republicans, so for political reasons, she had to stay.

I am John Kerry and I am reporting for duty. Need I say more. What a disaster he will be as head of a committee.

Tim Kaine would leave Virginia open for Republicans so, like Sebelius, he had to stay as well.

Unfortunately, this weekend, President elect Obama showed how little he understands capitalism. Capitalism is not about me-first and greed. People need goods and services. Risk is assumed by entrepreneurs, risk is either rewarded or you fail. Trying to prop up failures prolongs the problem. It did in the early thirties, and it will now if we do what Obama promised us this weekend on Meet the Press. I guess he fancies himself as the Roosevelt of the 21st century.


What in Obama's life, record or past gives you any indication he has a clue about running a business, let alone the country?

Posted by: thelaw1 | December 8, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I, too, have removed myself from consideration for a cabinet post. I decided to take this step when it became clear that I would have to disclose to transition officials that I'd used the screen name "Miss Hogynist" on this very web site, and that follow-up questions might delve into possible outfits worn while typing under that moniker.

Posted by: officermancuso | December 8, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

sebellius should and will run for senate in 2010. and she will win. hagel will be named defense secretary in early 2010. kaine will join the administration in 2010 as well. vilsack, rendell, and strickland will all seek and likely win senate seats in 2010. pawlenty will probably challenge klobuchar for hers, but she will win. jeb bush will run for senate against debbie wasserman shultz, and it will be very close. one of the carnahans will claim the senate seat in 2010 in missouri. and napolitano could still eye the mccain seat in Az; otherwise she will be AG after holder, and could well be the nominee in 2016. hear me now, believe me later.

Posted by: wickerparkbob | December 8, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I take Sebelius' declining to go to Cabinet as a sign she intends to try and make some history in Kansas; she'd have the best shot of any Democrat in a loooong time.

For Hagel, which Gates expected to hang around for only a year or so, he may be called to Cabinet at that point.

Posted by: SeanC1 | December 8, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

about Sebelius, no Black Man or Bi-Racial Man had ever been elected President of the United States until 2008. Things change, people change, Kansas will elect Sebelius to the Senate.

Posted by: sjxylib | December 8, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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