By Bonnie K. Goodman
Former Texas Governor and 2012 and 2016 GOP candidate Rick Perry is President-Elect Donald Trump’s frontrunner for the Secretary of Energy post in his cabinet. On Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, Bloomberg News reported that Perry is ahead of the pack on Trump’s shortlist for the post. This will be the first time a scientist is not heading the department responsible for “the safe handling of nuclear material and on emerging energy technologies.”
Bloomberg also noted that Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and “Dallas investor and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee” Ray Washburne are also under consideration. The Hill notes that Trump is also considering Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) for the post.
Trump is still meeting with candidates for the job. On Saturday, the president-elect met with Perry and Washburne while in Baltimore for the Army-Navy football game. Last week he met with Heitkamp at Trump Tower and intended to meet Manchin on Monday. Trump also is meeting again with Perry on Monday, Dec. 12. Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller confirmed a CBS News report about a second meeting. The meeting was set up after Trump and Perry’s Saturday meeting.
Ironically, Perry’s infamous oops moment from the 2012 campaign had to with the Energy Department. When asked in a 2011 GOP primary debate about the three departments he wants to eliminate as president, Perry forgot that he wanted to obliterate the Energy Department saying, “The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” That moment was his downfall. In 2016, early on he criticized Trump but then endorsed his candidacy, even looking to be his running-mate. Perry has not been shy about selling himself to be a part of the Trump administration cabinet.
Perry is on the board of Energy Transfer Partners LP the company building the North Dakota oil pipeline. According to Bloomberg Trump promised to increase “domestic oil, gas, and coal production” by “rescinding “job-killing” rules and environmental regulations.” Perry was the longest running Texas Governor, the state is central to American energy production, it “is the largest U.S. pumper of crude oil and home to two of the country’s largest petroleum refiners.”
The Energy Department is also central when it comes to nuclear weapons, “advocating nonproliferation, and promoting nuclear security worldwide.” Trump is planning to overhaul the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the next Energy Secretary will play a significant role in the negotiations.