Sunday, November 9, 2008

Top Democratic officials across the region who helped Sen. Barack Obama become president - including Sen.-elect Mark Warner of Virginia, who gave a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention - said they are focusing on their current jobs and not on working for the Obama administration.

“Governor Warner is eager to get to work for Virginians in the United States Senate, and we’ll be working with the leadership and his Senate colleagues on committee assignments that will help him best serve Virginia’s interests,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said last week.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who has earned nationwide attention for her efforts to reform the city’s troubled school system, garnered praise from Mr. Obama and Republican competitor Sen. John McCain during a presidential debate last month.

Although she has criticized Mr. Obama’s position on the No Child Left Behind legislation, her name still has been floated as a possible secretary of education.

“No, she hasn’t heard anything about that,” D.C. schools spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said. “Right now Miss Rhee’s only concern is to reform the D.C. public schools.”

Of the region’s Democratic leaders, an early Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter could be the first to get hired by the Obama White House.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown likely will get tapped for a position even though he supported Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary, said a former O’Malley administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In Virginia, several of Mr. Obama’s supporters occupy statewide offices and helped the Illinois senator become the first Democrat to win there since 1964. But none said they were prepared to take an immediate position in the Obama administration.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine - a close friend of Mr. Obama’s who was mentioned as a possible running mate - has repeatedly said he would not leave his spot for an Obama appointment and will finish out his term next year.

Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said Thursday that position still stands.

“The governor’s answer hasn’t changed on this,” she said. “He’s committed to being here through the end of his term.”

Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, also is focused on his Senate tasks, a spokeswoman said.

“We’ve come off of a great two years in the Senate, and I think he’s looking forward to building on that,” spokeswoman Kimberly Hunter said. “He’s already been in an administrative position before, and I think he’s enjoying his time in the Senate.”

Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected black governor, announced in May that he will not seek re-election.

The Democrat said Thursday that he has not been approached about an administration position and is “not seeking anything,” although he offered some words of wisdom for the president-elect.

“My advice has always been to reach out and get the best possible person,” Mr. Wilder said. “I think that you’re going to see [Mr. Obama] reaching out to Republicans, some Democrats who weren’t there for him, independents … I wouldn’t be surprised at anything.”

In the District, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who endorsed Mr. Obama, told WRC-TV (Channel 4) last month that taking an Obama Cabinet post would be “the one thing I would not do if President Obama asked me.”

Many of Maryland’s top Democrats cast their fortunes with Mrs. Clinton in the primary, including the state’s senior U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Neither Mr. O’Malley nor any of his close staff had been asked to serve in the new administration, a spokesman said last week.

Baltimore City’s health commissioner, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, has been mentioned as a dark-horse candidate to run the Food and Drug Administration, because of his work as a public health advocate, a Baltimore Democrat said on the condition of anonymity.

Obama for Maryland co-chairmen Rep. Elijah Cummings and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler would have no trouble finding work in an Obama administration, a handful of Maryland Democrats said.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide