Archive for Saturday, December 30, 2000

Push continues to get Graves a Cabinet job

Dole says he’s ready to help governor become transportation chief

December 30, 2000


— Bob Dole says he's ready to help get Gov. Bill Graves named as President-elect George W. Bush's transportation secretary.

Dole, former Kansas senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee, said Friday that Graves called before Christmas to say he was under consideration for the Cabinet post.

"He didn't ask me to do anything about it," Dole said in a telephone interview from his Bal Harbour, Fla., residence. "I'd be happy to if Bill wanted me to."

As of Friday, Bush has filled 11 of 14 Cabinet positions, leaving Labor, Energy and Transportation to go.

Graves' name has been on the list of potential appointees, and lobbying continues on his behalf by transportation industry officials and others. The governor says he hasn't asked anyone to push his name.

Others on the transportation list are Rep. Jennifer Dunn, of Washington; defeated Sen. Spencer Abraham, of Michigan; and Elaine L. Chao, former deputy transportation secretary in first Bush administration and wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

Graves has said secretary of transportation is the one job that would make him leave the governor's office before his second and last term expires in January 2003. His family ran the state's largest trucking firm before selling it in 1979.

The governor's friendship with the Bush family goes back two decades, and Graves was an early supporter of Bush's presidential campaign.

Kansas Republicans are speculating that Graves remains a serious contender, even though Graves says he has not talked to the Bush transition team.

"I've got to believe he's still in the running," said Pete McGill, chairman of Bush's presidential campaign in Kansas.

State GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson said he's seen conflicting speculation in news accounts and on Internet sites, but added, "I think Graves is still under consideration."

Graves spokesman Don Brown said supporters have continued to telephone the governor and ask for his permission to lobby on his behalf. He said such calls "have been a constant throughout the entire process."

Brown said many of the calls have come from aviation, railroad and trucking industry officials.

Asked why Graves hasn't asked Dole to lobby for him, Brown said: "The governor has said all along he has not lobbied for this. He has not sought people out. This is not about Bill Graves going after a Cabinet appointment."

Trent LeDoux, of Holton, didn't ask Graves or his staff for permission to lobby on the governor's behalf.

Instead, he downloaded the address of the Bush transition team in McLean, Va., and typed a letter.


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