Assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights Tom Perez is the expected pick to lead the Department of Labor, which leaves only four Cabinet or Cabinet-rank spots left open: Commerce Secretary, Transportation Secretary and the chiefs of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Small Business Administration.
Here’s a snapshot of the remaining openings and some possible fillers:
Commerce — Obama megadonor and businesswoman Penny Pritzker is said to be a top candidate.
Transportation — Debbie Hersman, who chairs the National Transportation Safety Board is among the most-talked about names.
USTR — Jeff Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, is a likely choice, but we hear there are others are in the mix.
SBA — One intriguing name we’ve heard is Regina Smith, director of the Harlem Business Alliance, whose work supporting small businesses snagged the White House’s attention.
An interesting side note: When folks began contemplating possible second-term picks, it seemed as if former Washington governor Christine Gregoire was mentioned as a possible candidate for nearly every job. At this point, the only slot she’s still being talked about for is at Transportation.
If she doesn’t get that, she might end up with the Susan Lucci award (like the soap opera star was for years — always a candidate; never a winner) for 2013.
Another note: only if the White House fills all four remaining positions with minorities (unlikely, given the top candidates), would the cabinet maintain its first-term level of diversity. President Obama still has some opportunities to name minorities to high-ranking spots (even though they might not have Cabinet cache), including deputy secretaries and the like.