In “Would Inslee join Biden Cabinet?” The Seattle Times joins the guessing game, noting that The New York Times features the Washington governor prominently for three possible appointments: Environmental Protection Agency, Energy, and Interior. A fourth possibility would be to head a new Climate agency.
Count me doubtful that Inslee will be calling a moving truck soon. Here are reasons for skepticism.
- The Trudi factor. Inslee’s wife, Trudi Inslee, perhaps the governor’s closest adviser, is said to be strongly opposed to relocating in D.C. The possibly apocryphal story is that Trudi Inslee once remarked, maybe jokingly, that the only house in D.C. that she would want to live in is the White House.
- Grandchildren. Inslee (and not just for campaign videos) is very close to his grandchildren. Indeed, the extended Inslee clan is mostly in the Northwest, and the governor dotes on them and sees them often.
- It takes a campaign. Those who aspire to cabinet posts don’t just sit by the phone. It takes an active and expensive campaign to be in the running, and so far Inslee does not appear to be raising money for this effort or working the phones. He may even be tired of campaigning, having just come off a presidential run.
- A Good Fit? Some of these jobs require strong management skills, which is not Inslee’s strong suit. Energy, for instance, has a major task of overseeing the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Typically, these departments name a strong manager or an “outside” person who will work well with an experienced administrator. The shoe doesn’t fit very well, and Biden prefers proven federal figures, often with an Obama pedigree.
- Old White Guy. President-elect Biden has pledged to create a cabinet with racial and gender diversity. That suggests a Native American for Interior (such as New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland), and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, an Obama veteran, (for Energy).
- Evergreen State Ripeness. The national obstacles for addressing climate change are formidable, particularly with the pandemic upstaging the climate crisis. Meanwhile the odds for significant advances in Washington state (environmentalist support for Inslee, good Democratic majorities in the Legislature) are much better. Besides, Inslee made it very clear (or almost clear) during the campaign for governor that he was not angling for a Biden post.
Count your blessings!