Labor, HUD Candidates Emerge

Rep. Esteban Torres (D-CA) remains a "potential compromise candidate" for Labor Sec. after a couple of weeks of "strains" in the liberal community between those supporting WH dir. of public liaison Alexis Herman and those backing AmeriCorps dir. Harris Wofford.

Torres "shot to the top of the list" after Sen. James Jeffords (R-VT), incoming chair of the Senate Labor cmte, "raised questions" about Herman, and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and AFL-CIO pres. John Sweeney backed Wofford. The "combination of Kennedy's preference and concerns expressed by Jeffords about Herman's consulting work" before she went to the WH, "caused Clinton to do a double take with Torres."

Last week, a top aide to Jeffords "said the senator planned to closely examine" Herman's consulting practice in the '80s. After leaving the Carter Labor dept., Herman became a management consultant for a number of Fortune 500 firms. Jeffords leg. dir. Mark Powden: "We would examine carefully that period of time." Also, while Herman is "highly regarded" inside the WH, conservative GOPers "would be expected to question her extensively about her ties" to Ron Brown during her tenure as his chief of staff at the DNC. Sources said the WH "didn't want that in light of the ongoing investigation of DNC fund-raising practices" (Scales/Black, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/17).

CNN's Blitzer: "The battle to replace Labor Secretary Robert Reich continues. ... Torres is said to be moving up" (12/16).

At HUD, Outgoing Asst. HUD Sec. Andrew Cuomo "has emerged as the leading candidate" to succeed Henry Cisneros according to admin. sources. Cuomo is "interested" and a background check is underway. Cuomo is "said to be the personal favorite" of VP Gore.

The prospects for Seattle Mayor Norm Rice "hit a snag" following a complaint filed by a homeless advocacy group in Seattle which charged that Rice's admin. gave false information to the govt. in a '94 application for a low-interest HUD loan.

Cuomo had been an "early contender" for HUD, but then "indicated he preferred to return to New York, where he was a housing advocate." However, following Rice's difficulty and the "disinterest" of Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, Cuomo "apparently has changed his mind."

Admin. sources said Sen. Al D'Amato (R-NY), who chairs the panel which oversees HUD, would not "raise a fuss" over the nomination. The sources said D'Amato was interested in keeping Cuomo in DC and out of NY, where he could run against D'Amato in '98.

WH officials said Clinton is "likely" to finish Cabinet-making this week. Clinton still needs to fill vacancies at Labor, Trans., Energy and the CEA. Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater remains a "good bet" for Trans. (Scales/Black, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/17). Education Sec. Richard Riley is expected to stay on for at least another year (HOTLINE sources, 12/17).

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