Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Solis Out

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced just now that she's leaving the administration.

Barack Obama is going to be under some pressure on the demographic characteristics of her replacement; with Jack Lew, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel getting the last three nominations, Democratic constituencies will be expecting women to fill upcoming vacancies. However (and as I've been saying for a week now on twitter), there's an opportunity here for him to solve a problem that the Kerry appointment created. The Democratic primary in Massachusetts could easily wind up selecting social conservative Member of the House Stephen Lynch, which many mainstream liberals would see as a major disaster.

With Lynch presumably running, liberals have a strong incentive to rally behind Ed Markey, the frontrunner, to avoid a split field and the chance Lynch could win with a relatively small percentage of the vote. But they may not want to do that, for a variety of reasons. Lynch is, however, strongly supported by labor. Obama could pluck him out of the House and make him Secretary of Labor, thus solving the problem entirely, and allowing a safe free-for-all in the Senate special election primary.

On the other hand...maybe the Massachusetts legislature should just change the rules and institute a new rule that special Senate election primaries need a 50% threshold, and require a runoff if no one reaches it. That would work, too! And we all know that Massachusetts Democrats don't mind making up the rules as they go along on these things.

And the gender imbalance? A lot better to take care of that with a woman at White House Chief of Staff than the minor leagues of the cabinet. Plus, there's always Commerce.


  1. If MA is going to make any change, they should just say that if there's less than two years left in the vacant seat's term, the appointee will serve until the end of that term. This wouldn't even be indefensible -- special elections are expensive, low-turnout affairs.

  2. The lack of gender diversity in Obama's cabinet is definitely a problem; I understand there's a former liberal-ish NE governor who probably still has several binders full of them....

    (Please forgive the obviousness)

  3. I don't think we'd go for the runoff idea because of the added cost. But if we did, we'd have to push back the special election window, now 145 to 160 days after vacancy, to probably 160-180 days, in order to accommodate the runoff period. If you didn't you'd have to set the primaries earlier, and that would push the filing deadline earlier. In 2010 the primary filing deadline for nomination papers with certified signatures was Nov. 3, which was only 70 days from the vacancy date.

    Cutter for COS. If there's the requisite level of comfort and trust in the relationship.

  4. Oooo, Commerce! The best of the lot.

  5. I like the Lynch for SecLabor idea. The post would be a good place to bury that ddimwit and keep him out of the primary.

    In the unlikely event this happened, pretty much all remaining vacancies would need to go to women and/or Hispanics.

  6. You don't think there's any reputational concern involved in naming one of the Democrats who voted against Obamacare to a Cabinet position? Rewarding disloyalty on the president's signature achievement seems problematic to me.

  7. Isn't the leadership of the Massachusetts state ideologically more similar to Lynch than to Markey or Capuano or whoever? Why would they want to create a new rule that hurts Lynch?

  8. And the consensus seems to be: this one should have been left on twitter, where everyone could ignore and then quickly forget it.

    You all may be right about that. Oh well.

  9. US Election results by county. VERY interesting...


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