Speculation on who President-elect Barack Obama will select as the next secretary of agriculture has already begun. Meatingplace.com has reported several names that are being mentioned for the job based on a survey of agriculture industry insiders, major news outlets and political blogs
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack heads the list. Vilsack ran a brief campaign himself for president and then backed Hilary Clinton for the White House. Vilsack then became an active campaigner for Obama once he secured the nomination. That initial Clinton support may hurt his chances, however, Vilsack is ready to do whatever Obama asks him to do.
Another possibility is Tom Buis, the president of the National Farmers Union. He is a prominent figure on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was an Obama supporter during the campaign. Possibly problematic is Buis' status as a registered lobbyist.
Another name that has been mentioned is former Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-Texas). He served 13 terms and sat as the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. Stenholm's name has come up several times for this post, including in Bush's second term.
Other mentions include:
- Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), current chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
- North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson
- Former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), who spoke at the Democratic convention in August
- Marshall Matz, co-chair of Obama's rural outreach committee and a lawyer who has represented school nutrition interests
- Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius
- Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.)
- Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen