Amid a growing sense of frustration among his transition aides, President-elect Ronald Reagan yesterday again put off naming the remaining members of his Cabinet until later this week.
Although informed sources indicated calls had gone out to most of the persons Reagan would like to appoint to fill the majority of the remaining seven Cabinet posts -- and the nomination of Alexander M. Haig Jr. as secretary of state was all but certain -- a formal announcement of the choices was delayed until at least Wednesday, when the first two additional batches of nominees would be made public.
The delay allowed heated skirmishes over several posts, particularly secretary of labor, to continue, much to the dismay of transition officials already smarting over allegations that the transition effort has become an uncontrollable, bloated bureaucracy.
The president-elect, spending the week in near-isolation in California, was reported to have selected James Watt, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver, as interior secretary, and to have picked Max L. Friedersdorf as his chief congressional lobbyist. Friedersdorf, now chairman of the Federal Election Commission, held the same post under former president Ford.
Richard Lyng, a former president of the American Meat Institute and a former assistant secretary of agriculture, was said to have emerged as the likely agriculture secretary, a post that has been the object of an intense internal struggle for weeks.
Tufts University professor John Sununu was still being mentioned as the top candidate for energy secretary, but he has not yet been contacted about the job, and one knowledgeable source said, "That is not a good sign."
Meanwhile, a vicious lobbying campaign continued over the secretary of labor position, and labor sources claimed the up-and-down fortunes of one of the candidates for that job, Betty Southard Murphy, were up again.
For a week or so, it seemed that Murphy, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, was out of the running and that the job would go to Ray Donovan, a New Jersey building contractor and longtime Reagan supporter.
"Donovan was the only person with security checks out on him at the time," said one well-placed federal labor source. "I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, Donovan was out and Murphy was back in."
One thing that happened was that the Teamsters, the nation's largest union and the first to back Reagan's successful presidential bid, began pushing hard for Murphy, calling up Reagan officials and lobbying the Hill.
Electrical, mechanical, masonry and general building contractors' associations also began putting out the word that they supported Murphy, and Murphy's early backers, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reaffirmed their support in the wake of the Donovan reports.
Donovan, however, has powerful friends on Reagan's transition team, and several sources there indicated he may still emerge with the job. "There are a lot of people here who are very upset about all the rumor-mongering about Donovan," said one source.
Another source indicated that if Murphy gets the labor post this would diminish pressure for Reagan to name another woman, Jewel Lafontant, a Chicago lawyer and former deputy solicitor general, as secretary of housing and urban development.
One alternative mentioned here is state Sen. Roy Goodman of Manhattan, who is being supported by several key Jewish supporters of Reagan and by the incoming Senate majority leader, Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee.
Reagan, who already has named eight white men to his Cabinet, is still believed to be looking for a woman to head the Department of Education. which Reagan repeatedly promised to abolish during his campaign. The leading contenders for that job appear to be Elizabeth Dole, a top transition adviser and former member of the Federal Trade Commission, and Barbara Thompson, Wisconsin superintendent of public education.
Thompson acknowledged yesterday she has been approached by Reagan advisers, and that "there seems to have been an increase in interest and activity" during the last few days.
She said she has not been offered the job, but if she were, "I have indicated that I would accept." She also indicated she'd have no compunctions against dismantling the new department if that were Reagan's wish.
Nancy Davis, a spokesman for Dole, said Dole has "not been talking or thinking about" the education job and has not spoken to Reagan about it.