Will Spellings Labor for the Duration?
As Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced his departure last week, political observers in Washington noted the exodus of Texans from the upper echelons of President Bush’s administration.
One of those Lone Star veterans, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, has no evident plans to join the string of departures.
In addition to Mr. Gonzales, other Texans the administration has lost in recent months include Karl Rove, the president’s top White House political adviser; Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel; and presidential counselor Dan Bartlett.
Many in Washington viewed Labor Day as a deadline for senior officials to depart, or else keep working for President Bush for the duration of his second term. White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten is widely reported to have issued such an edict.
In response to an inquiry from Education Week, Samara Yudof, Ms. Spellings’ acting press secretary, said in an e-mail Aug. 30 that “the secretary has no plans at this time to leave the Department of Education and looks forward to continuing to work with Congress on behalf of students and their families to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act.”
As The Washington Post pointed out last week, Mr. Bush has only a few of his close Texas-connected aides left. Besides Ms. Spellings, a longtime resident of Houston who worked for Mr. Bush in the Texas governor’s office, the others include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso R. Jackson and Clay Johnson III, the deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and Mr. Bush’s roommate at Yale University.
Richard W. Riley served as secretary of education for all eight years of President Clinton’s tenure. The only time an education secretary left in the waning days of a presidency was in 1988, when William J. Bennett stepped down and President Reagan named Lauro F. Cavazos to the job. That appointment was widely viewed as a political gesture to attract Hispanic voters to the presidential campaign of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.
Vol. 27, Issue 2, Page 19