- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama continues to look to key allies for coveted administration positions, with early supporter Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano the leading choice to serve as Homeland Security Secretary and considering his longtime financial backer Penny Pritzker to be Commerce Secretary.

The Democrat’s transition team declined to comment but sources said Ms. Napolitano is expected to get the job once Mr. Obama begins naming Cabinet choices.

Mrs. Pritzker, a friend, was the Obama campaign’s national finance chair and part of the team that helped him raise nearly $650 million for his White House bid.

Sources said she is being considered for the post, but those in the know cautioned her business dealings may prevent her from taking it and that she instead would serve the White House in a different capacity.

Mrs. Pritzker’s family founded the Hyatt hotel chain and she is one of the wealthiest women in America. Her brother was a major donor for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Presidents have a tradition of selecting top fundraisers for the commerce job.

Ms. Napolitano, who endorsed Mr. Obama early in the primary process over Mrs. Clinton, campaigned for him across the country all year.

She was a possible choice to serve as Mr. Obama’s running mate or as attorney general.

Mr. Obama on Thursday has a series of private meetings in Chicago. Vice President-Joe Biden is celebrating his 66th birthday in Delaware with his family.

Future White House Chief of Staff Rep. Rahm Emanuel is in Washington meeting with Republicans in the House and Senate. The Obama transition team said the Illinois Democrat was discussing ways “to best work together” and ensuring lawmakers “the White House will be open at all times for them.”

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