A black business executive is under consideration for a top job in the administration of President-elect George W. Bush, who is expected to name the remaining seven members of his Cabinet today and tomorrow.
Stephen A. Perry, 55, has been strongly recommended as labor secretary by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.
Mr. Perry is senior vice president for labor relations and workplace safety for the worldwide operation of the Timken steel and roller-bearings company, based in Canton, Ohio.
“He’s a superb executive with strong governmental experience,” said Ohio Republican party chairman Robert Bennett.
Supporters say that because Mr. Perry lacks Washington political experience, Mr. Bush may instead consider him to head the General Services Administration or the Office of Personnel Management, where he would have the power to decide where and how to cut or expand the federal payroll.
A holder of graduate management degrees from Stanford University and the University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration, Mr. Perry once headed the Ohio equivalent of the GSA.
Although tight-lipped yesterday about his expected announcements, Mr. Bush is expected to name Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson to the Cabinet and campaign adviser Karl Rove as “counselor to the president.”
Mr. Thompson, a pro-choice Catholic and a pioneer in school choice and welfare reform in his state, is expected to be named as Mr. Bush’s choice to be secretary of health and human services or to head the Transportation Department.
The biggest remaining prize is secretary of defense, which some Republicans say is likely to go to former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, a favorite of centrists and conservatives who stress the importance of a strong national defense.
But also under consideration for the Defense post is industrialist Frederick Smith, founder and chairman of FedEx Corp.
“You’ll have to just wait and see who I announce. Nobody’s out of the running,” Mr. Bush told reporters yesterday when they asked about Cabinet picks.
While in Washington this week, Mr. Bush will meet with Anthony Principi, a San Diego lawyer and Vietnam combat veteran, a possible candidate to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Principi served as Veterans Affairs deputy secretary during the presidency of Mr. Bush’s father. A Naval Academy graduate, he commanded sailors in the Navy’s river patrol force in Vietnam’s muddy inland waters.
His main rival for the job is retired Marine Lt. Col. Robin Higgins, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. She is the widow of Col. Rich Higgins, who was kidnapped and murdered by Iranian-backed militants in Lebanon in 1988. She has led the fight to force the Iranian government to pay reparations to victims.
In addition to the Defense Department, Mr. Bush has yet to name the heads of the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Education, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs.
The president-elect also is considering other non-Cabinet appointments, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a leading contender to head the CIA; Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a former FBI agent and U.S. Justice Department official, to head the FBI; and former Federal Reserve Board member Larry Lindsay as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Patricia Harrison, the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee who is said by Republicans close to the transition team to be highly valued by Mr. Rove and Commerce Department nominee Don Evans, is one of several candidates to head the Small Business Administration or to join Mr. Evans at Commerce.
Or Mrs. Harrison may remain as RNC co-chairman, but with a redefined and even more active role. That decision would be made by Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, whom Mr. Bush named last week to succeed Jim Nicholson as Republican national chairman.
Mrs. Harrison, a native of New York City, has lived in Virginia for more than 30 years. But there is precedent for the chairman and co-chairman to hail from the same state when Haley Barbour, a Mississippi boy through and through, was national party chairman, Evelyn McPhail, also from Mississippi, was co-chairman.
Mr. Perry, the Labor Secretary candidate, has worldwide responsibility for workplace safety at Timkin an important responsibility of the U.S. labor department. He has been a member of the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees all the state universities.
When George V. Voinovich, now a U.S. senator, was governor of Ohio, Mr. Perry served in his Cabinet as director of the department of administrative services, an agency with an annual budget of more than $2 billion.
Before that, Mr. Perry spent 27 years with Timkin.
Mr. Bush announced last week the nominations of New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to head the Environmental Protection Agency and outgoing Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft to be attorney general.
The president-elect has been on vacation with his family in Florida for several days, a fishing trip that aides insisted was a “no-news vacation.” But Mr. Bush acknowledged yesterday that he has continued to discuss transition appointments with advisers by telephone.
Mr. Bush is also watching events in Washington, where President Clinton and his outgoing administration have continued to issue last-minute appointments, executive orders and regulations. Just yesterday, Mr. Clinton named lawyer Roger Gregory to the 4th Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals, the first black man to sit on the panel.
Mr. Clinton made his nomination under his constitutional power to name an official without Senate confirmation as long as Congress is in recess. The Senate does not return until Jan. 3.
The appointment is sure to irritate Republicans, who have complained about Mr. Clinton’s habit of circumventing hostile Republicans in Congress using executive orders and recess appointments.
Republicans in Washington have advised Mr. Bush to rescind many of Mr. Clinton’s most controversial executive orders, including ones designating new national monuments, setting an ambiguous policy toward homosexuals in the military, and loosening U.S. policy on overseas abortions and fetal tissue research.
Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.