President-elect Barack Obama has already appointed several Los Angeles Democrats to key roles in the new White House, and more Angelenos are likely to serve in the incoming administration.
The competition for a position is fierce: More than 300,000 have applied for the fewer than 8,000 presidentially appointed positions.
But veteran political consultants said Obama is likely to tap many from Los Angeles, with its host of top Democrats experienced in environmental, energy and labor policies.
That could be good news for Los Angeles and its economy despite the frequent disconnect between Democrats and big business.
"The more people you have from Los Angeles and Southern California in midlevel and high-level positions in the Obama administration, the more the needs of Southern California will surface and the more likely it is that those needs are addressed," said Hal Dash, president of the Democratic-oriented L.A. political consulting and public relations firm Cerrell Associates.
"In the last few weeks, thousands upon thousands of people from Los Angeles have applied to be in the Obama administration."
The L.A. economy flourished during the Reagan administration, partly because of a surge in federal contracts in the aerospace industry, said Dash. A similar influx of business also occurred during the Clinton administration.
Already, Obama tapped Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, a strong supporter of unions and environmental jobs, to serve as labor secretary though that's an appointment that is hardly likely to endear the business community to the incoming president.
In addition, L.A. Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley was appointed to run the White House's Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley has been the force behind Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's aggressive environmental and energy agenda.
What follows is a list of incoming and potential top appointees to the new administration, as well as a list of outgoing Bush administration officials with ties to Los Angeles.
Incoming to Obama administration
Hilda Solis , 51
Represents San Gabriel Valley's
32nd Congressional District
Post: Secretary of Labor
The El Monte Democrat is likely to have a big impact on business as the incoming labor secretary, but not in a way many businesses will like. Solis is expected to support union-friendly legislation, including the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier to organize workers. During her political career, Solis has received significant campaign contributions from labor groups, and is well-known as an advocate for low-wage workers. She serves on the board of directors of American Rights at Work, a non-profit organization that advocates for the right to unionize and collective bargaining. Solis is also known for her work on environmental issues, including the promotion of environmentally friendly jobs like solar panel installation.
Nancy Sutley , 46
L.A. Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment
Post: Chairwoman, White House Council
on Environmental Quality
Obama tapped Sutley to head the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates federal environmental and energy policies and initiatives. Environmental advocates expect Sutley to promote a progressive agenda in Washington similar to the one she crafted during her tenure in Villaraigosa's administration. Sutley supported the mayor's mandate to make Los Angeles the "greenest big city in America." She was involved in moving the Department of Water and Power to wind and solar energy, and played a role in the controversial effort to retire old diesel trucks at the Port of Los Angeles. Sutley also sits on the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. During the Clinton administration, Sutley served in high-level posts in the federal Environmental Protection Agency.mer Gov. Gray Davis.
Camille Johnston , 40
Former Senior Vice President of Communications, Los Angeles Dodgers
Post: Director of Communications, Michelle Obama
As director of communications for the incoming first lady, Johnston will oversee all communications and a staff that includes the press secretary. Johnston also will serve as special assistant to the president. She was hired by Dodgers co-owner Jamie McCourt in 2005 to oversee the team's communications effort but resigned two years later when a veteran baseball executive was brought in to share her duties. A veteran of the Clinton-Gore campaigns, Johnston was the director of communications for Tipper Gore from 1999 to 2001. She also served as press secretary for Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Education Secretary Richard Riley during the Clinton administration.
Alejandro Mayorkas , 49
Partner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Post: Likely in Department of Justice
Mayorkas has been advising President-elect Obama as a member of the Justice Department transition team and thus is poised to grab a position in that department. A veteran of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, Mayorkas served as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California during the Clinton administration, and spent nine years as an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting hate crimes. After leaving the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mayorkas joined international law firm O'Melveny & Myers, where he is a partner in the firm's L.A. office. Mayorkas litigates complex civil and criminal matters and handles internal corporate investigations. He declined to comment on whether he will be joining the incoming administration.
Nancy McCullough , 40
Attorney, sole practitioner
There is talk among the legal community that McCullough, a longtime Obama supporter, could get a spot in the incoming administration. McCullough declined to comment, but the entertainment attorney is a close friend of the fellow Harvard Law graduate. McCullough was a year behind Obama at Harvard, and the two worked together on Harvard's Law Review. McCullough also sat on Obama's national arts policy committee, and raised more than $100,000 from friends and associates for the Obama campaign. She has been involved in lawyer-monitored Democratic voter protection efforts.
Michael Lawson , 55
Partner, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Lawson is another attorney who has been the object of speculation among the legal community. He has been a big Obama supporter since the president-elect's first U.S. Senate campaign, and could garner a position in the incoming administration. In addition to raising thousands of dollars for Obama at his Hancock Park home, Lawson is a personal friend of the fellow Harvard Law School graduate. He declined to comment on whether he will be joining the administration, and said he is "happy being a lawyer here in Los Angeles." As a partner in the L.A. office of the high-powered law firm of Skadden Arps, he advises corporations on employee benefit funds.
Central District of California
Initial speculation on who could become the new U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has focused on four locals: Brian Hennigan at Irell & Manella LLP, Bart Williams at Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, Steve Olson at O'Melveny & Myers and Gary Lincenberg at Bird Marella Boxer Wolpert Nessim Drooks & Lincenberg. All four are former federal prosecutors who transitioned into private practice. Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced last week that she has put together a bipartisan committee to select and vet nominees for the head U.S. attorney post. Feinstein and her fellow Democratic U.S. senator from California, Barbara Boxer, will take turns filling open positions in all four federal districts.
Outgoing from Bush administration
Gerald Parsky , 66
Partner, Aurora Capital Group
Post: Informal Bush point man in California
Parsky doesn't currently hold a position in the Bush administration, but the Aurora Capital Group partner is likely to lose some political power. Parsky was known as the Bush administration's point man in California. In 2000 and 2004, he served as chair of Bush's California campaigns and is a confidante of the president. An attorney, Parksy reviewed candidates for U.S. attorney positions, and he brokered a deal between Bush and Sens. Feinstein and Boxer for the creation of a bipartisan commission that recommended candidates for California's federal judgeships. Parksy chaired the commission, which informally bore his name. Parsky's 12-year term on the UC Board of Regents, which he was appointed to in 1996 by Gov. Pete Wilson, also came to an end in 2008. Aurora Capital is an L.A. investment firm that acquires and builds companies in partnership with operating management.
Nathan Hochman , 45
Post: Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, Department of Justice
In November 2007, President Bush tapped Beverly Hills attorney Hochman to head up all civil and criminal federal tax enforcement across the United States. Hochman will be replaced after Obama takes office later this month. A native Angeleno, Hochman will be returning to private practice, but he declined to say at which L.A.-area firm. Before going to Washington, D.C., Hochman practiced at Hochman Salkin Rettig Toscher & Perez, a Beverly Hills law firm co-founded by his father. During Hochman's tenure in the Bush administration, he led a team of 355 attorneys in targeting abusive tax shelters, unscrupulous tax preparers and tax evaders.
Ronald Spogli , 60
Post: U.S. Ambassador to Italy and San Marino
Spogli is likely to leave his two posts after Obama takes office. The Los Angeles native was appointed U.S. ambassador to Italy by Bush in 2005, and was appointed the first U.S. ambassador to the Italian enclave of San Marino in 2006. It's not clear what he might do, but rejoining the local business scene appears to be a possibility. He is a founding partner of Freeman Spogli & Co., an L.A. private equity firm focused on leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations of growth companies. Spogli is a longtime friend of Bush, dating back to their years at Harvard Business School in the mid-1970s when they were roommates. During Bush's bid for the presidency, both Spogli and investment partner Brad Freeman raised campaign donations among the West Coast's business elite.
Frank Baxter , 72
Post: Ambassador to Uruguay
Baxter was a Bush "Pioneer" during the president's 2004 reelection run, gathering more than $100,000 in donations. He also was a founding member of the conservative Club for Growth, an organization formed by Wall Street executives to support congressional candidates. Bush appointed Baxter U.S. ambassador to the small South American country in November 2006, but he will likely be replaced after Obama takes office. He is another Bush administration official who could return to L.A.'s business world, though at his age it is questionable. Baxter served as chief executive of middle-market brokerage and investment bank Jefferies & Co. from 1987 until his retirement in 2001. He still maintains a home in Pacific Palisades. Baxter and his wife, Katherine Baxter, are also major supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Thomas O'Brien , 49
Post: U.S. Attorney, Central District of California
In 2007, Bush nominated O'Brien U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, which includes L.A. County. If history repeats itself, Obama will likely replace O'Brien, a registered Republican. Through a spokesperson, O'Brien declined to comment on whether he will try to hold on to his position. In addition to serving as a U.S. attorney, O'Brien sits on the president's Corporate Fraud Task Force and is chair of the U.S. attorney general's cyber/intellectual property subcommittee. A longtime public servant, O'Brien was previously an assistant U.S. attorney and served as chief of both the criminal division and civil rights section in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Eric George , 40
Partner, Stein Kahan Brown Woods George LLP
Post: Member, Parsky Commission
George has the ear of Republican powerhouse Parsky, and currently sits on the committee that selects federal judge nominations in California. The bipartisan Parsky Commission was specially created under Bush and is likely to be disbanded by the Obama administration, curtailing George's influence locally and in Washington. A name partner at L.A. law firm Stein Kahan Brown Woods George, he is a business litigator with clients such as former Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz. George also sits on the board of L.A. legal services non-profit Bet Tzedek.
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