We’ve joked about a President Mitt Romney picking Obama EPA air chief Gina McCarthy as his EPA administrator. Joking aside, Romney’s “most likely” EPA administrator is somewhat worrisome.
George W. Bush-era energy policy wonks are finding a new home with Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor can count on support from a who’s who of former Bush officials willing to raise money, brainstorm policy ideas and generally help spread the word among the ranks of like-minded GOP energy experts.
Already on board the Romney train are Jim Connaughton, who ran Bush’s White House Council on Environmental Quality for all eight years; former Assistant Energy Secretary Andy Karsner; former EPA air chief Jeff Holmstead; and former EPA congressional affairs liaison Edward Krenik.
The former Bush officials all told POLITICO that they don’t have official roles in the Romney campaign. But they confirmed their support for Romney, yet another potential signal that the Washington establishment has decided who has the inside track for the GOP nomination.
“It’s pre-dating,” said a former Bush energy official. “Everybody sees the writing on the wall on who’s going to win, so they’re jumping over there.”
Mike McKenna, a GOP energy strategist helping Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, said the former Bush officials are making their inroads now in the hope they can find a way back into government jobs via a Romney administration.
“Guys like that don’t come onto the campaign unless you promise them some kind of influence, some significant ability to help the decisions on where the campaign goes,” he said.
Of Connaughton, one of Bush’s closest advisers on energy policy and now an executive vice president at Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, McKenna added, “He’s the guy most credentialed and most likely to be the next EPA administrator. I’ve got to think they’re listening to him pretty closely.” [Emphasis added].
In addition to Bush’s energy and environment team representing an 8-year missed opportunity to reform the EPA, Connaughton was reportedly on Capitol Hill last week lobbying against the effort to rollback EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, supports the DOE loan program that produced Solyndra, has supported for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and said that the right overreacted to Climategate.
Jim’s a nice guy, but maybe he ought tosee if there are any openings in the Obama administration.