No sooner had the resignation of Eric Holder been announced earlier today than speculation began over who would be the nation's next attorney general.
Much of the punditocracy seemed to settle quickly on California State Attorney General Kamala Harris, of whom an admiring President Barack Obama himself famously said: "…she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law and making sure everybody is getting a fair shake.
"She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country." (Branded insulting by some feminists, Obama's praise of Harris also provoked anger from Florida Republicans who insisted their State Attorney General Pam Bondi was better looking than the California Democrat).
Along with giving the president a high-profile female attorney general in an election year, the appointment of Harris would ease a possibly explosive problem for Golden State Democrats. With Gov. Jerry Brown expected to be re-elected this year and then termed out in 2014, Harris is one of several Golden State Democrats in statewide office expected to enter a crowded primary to succeed him.
But Harris may not get the job after all. She is expected to be re-elected to her present office with ease but if appointed U.S. attorney general, would then have to resign for take one office after being re-elected to another.
Holder has signaled he will remain attorney general until a successor is confirmed. The White House is expected to move quickly, with several sources in Washington telling Newsmax that an appointment will come before the November election while Senate Democrats are still certain of a majority to confirm the president's choice.
One prospect whose confirmation would surely be contentious is Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole. When named to his present post in 2010, Cole was primarily known as special counsel to the House Ethics Committee during its investigation of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1996-97. Cole had to wait five months for a Senate vote, finally receiving a recess appointment from Obama in December 2010 and confirmation by a vote of 55-to-42 in June of '11.
Cole later came under intense fire from conservatives after Holder said his deputy "ultimately authorized the subpoena" to covertly obtain phone records from the Associated Press.
Three other possible attorneys general are U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. , who reportedly earned strong admiration from the President for his successful argument in the Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), a former state attorney general of Rhode Island; and Massachusetts' lameduck Gov. Deval Patrick, a former assistant attorney general for civil rights.
At presstime, spokesmen for both Whitehouse and Patrick said neither was interested in becoming attorney general.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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