Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday saw his boss re-elected as President of the United States, but his wife defeated in her run for Congress.
What does that mean for Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa? When asked about his future before the election, Vilsack reportedly responded by saying, “I love my job.”
But Washington D.C. is already speculating on who might be called in as replacements for President Obama’s first term cabinet appointments.
And this D.C. parlor game includes both those who might replace Vilsack at USDA and Kathleen Sebelius at Health and Human Services (HHS). Both departments have units with major food safety responsibilities, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) at USDA and the U.S. Food at Drug Administration (FDA) at HHS.
This makes Vilsack and Sebelius, after the President, the nation’s top food safety officials.
The same person holding either of these jobs for more than one Presidential term is rare. Not since the Kennedy-Johnson era has a Secretary of Agriculture served eight years, a tenure last turned in by Minnesota’s Orville Freeman.
Vilsack could probably go for that record, especially after helping deliver his home state of Iowa to Obama by a healthy 52 to 46 percent margin. Mark McMinimy, an analyst at Guggenheim Washington Research Group, thinks Vilsack is likely to continue as Ag Secretary.
McMinimy says USDA has been free of scandal and controversy under Vilsack, with only first term exception being the dust-up over Shirley Sherrod for alleged racist remarks that the administration says were taken out of context.
But SNR Denton, a law firm with 60 offices around the world including one on K Street in Washington D.C., has come out with a 34-page report on what’s ahead for the 113th Congress and the Obama Administration over the next four years.
And “Election Insight 2012” includes speculation about changes at both USDA and HHS.
Possible replacements for the Secretary of Agriculture include former Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Kent Conrad (D-ND). SNR Denton’s report also lists Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) who was re-elected Tuesday to the surprise of many.
Possible replacements for the HHS Secretary include three Democratic governors – Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, and John Kitzhaber of Oregon. Also listed are Nancy-Ann DeParle, the current HHS deputy chief of staff, and Lois Quam, executive director of the Global Health Initiative at the U.S. Department of State.
Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack gave conservative Republican Rep. Steve King (R-IA) the biggest election challenge of his career, but she still fell on the wrong side of a 55 to 45 percent vote.
Her campaign against King in the Republican leaning district has, however, brought about talk that Vilsack could be a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate from Iowa in 2014.© Food Safety News