Who replaces Big Sis at DHS?

National Journal has come up with a list of possible replacements for Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The one, big drawback that I see from the list is that it is made up almost entirely of white males. Given the greif Obama has received over the lack of diversity in some of his recent cabinet appointments, you wonder if any of these candidates will make the final cut.

hs_small2 Who replaces Big Sis at DHS?

In the run-up to the 2012 election, National Journal named New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton, and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen as possible successors for Napolitano at Homeland Security if she were to step down. In the political world, former Senator Joe Lieberman is also a rumored possibility to take the job, in part because he could help make a possibly contentious Senate confirmation process a bit easier. NBC’s Chuck Todd also mentioned former Rep. Jane Harman as a possible replacement.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley could also be something of a dark-horse candidate. O’Malley was named by President Obama as a chairman of a national homeland security panel in February. The governor also has strong 2016 ambitions.

The Hill adds the names of Richard Clark, James Witt, and Rep. Mike Rogers:

Richard Clarke

Having served in various security capacities within the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush, Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Clarke’s name was on Obama’s shortlist of potential DHS heads when he first took office in 2009.

His dust-up in 2004 with the last Bush administration over its handling of al Qaeda and terrorist threats in the lead up to the September 11, 2001, attacks could place him squarely in Senate Democrats’ favor.


James Witt

President Clinton’s head of FEMA, Witt got his start in Arkansas but quickly turned FEMA into a well-respected disaster-relief organization that people came to depend on over the course of more than 300 emergencies while he was in office.

In 2005, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco hired Witte to lead the state’s reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.


Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)

Rogers was widely floated as a possible candidate to be the next director of the FBI and a Senate bid was speculated to be in his future. But with both of those ships having sailed, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee may be hard pressed to turn down an opportunity to head DHS.

The former FBI agent has not been slow to criticize the administration on certain security matters, such as its response to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, or its course of action in the ongoing Syria conflict, but it has not cost him the fresh bipartisan comity that he helped bring to the committee in 2010.

Of the names on that list, Kelly and Rogers would probably have the easiest confirmation path, while Clarke and Lieberman the toughest. But I think Obama would eschew all of the above candidates in favor of a woman or minority. What a coup it would be for him if he named an Hispanic to oversee ICE.

As we go farther in Obama’s second term, the tendency is for presidents to try and leave a mark on history. Naming a black or Hispanic to DHS would be historic – which may be reason enough for the president to make that choice.

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