An interesting column in The Washington Post advises President Obama to shake up his White House staff by adding some pragmatic and outspoken governors. Two logical candidates are Ed Rendell, the term-limited governor of Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan. Both are skilled governors, grappling with the heartland problems that are a major voter weakness for the Obama Democrats. Rendell is particularly outspoken and wise, and so might help Team Obama to "get beyond Chicago."
There was earlier talk of making Rendell Obama's new chief of staff, though that post now seems destined for insider Pete Rouse, currently the interim chief of staff. Rendell, who like Granholm was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton in the primaries, would also help Obama slip the charge of Ivy League elitism. Rendell is a former hard-nosed prosecutor and mayor of Philadelphia. He's a tough-guy with smarts and a common touch. Granholm has labored mightily to lead the state with the worst economy in the nation.
If there is an Obama 2.0 coming, what about some other changes? Might there finally be a post for Gov. Gregoire, for instance? Two problems: Washington is so safely in the Obama camp that there's not an electoral need to woo it this way, and the successor to Gregoire, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, is not exactly what the state needs in its current crisis. Still, Gregoire might figure that it's a better time to accept an appointment now than risking that Obama or a Democrat is elected in 2012. Former Mayor Greg Nickels to D.C.? Not likely — he doesn't like to travel.
In the other direction, we might see some Washingtonians on flights back to this state. Ron Sims, now languishing in HUD, has been looking for a change, maybe in this Washington, maybe in that Washington. (He was courted to be the new head of the Puget Sound Partnership, for instance.) As for former Gov. Gary Locke, the secretary of Commerce, he might be nudged aside as Obama seeks to shore up support in the business community by appointing a corporate heavyweight to that post, as is traditional. Democratic Congresspersons, now in the minority, might also think of booking a one-way flight west.