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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is sitting at the top of Trump’s shortlist for United States Energy Secretary, according to people familiar with the president-elect’s selection process.
Other contenders for the top spot at the US Department of Energy are Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.; Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, W.V.; and Ray Washburne, former chairman of the RNC.
Trump’s appointee for the cabinet position would be the United States’ fourteenth Secretary of Energy—a position that has typically been filled by scientists, such as MIT professor and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, Nobel-prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT Samuel Bodman—the last three Energy Secretaries.
While former Texas Governor Rick Perry doesn’t share the same credentials as some of his predecessors, President-Elect Donald Trump has already shown his propensity for an establishment-be-damned attitude with regards to almost everything, and as such, Perry shouldn’t be written off just yet.
Rick Perry would be an extremely ironic choice that promises to give critics a bit of fodder. And no, not just for his cha-cha-ing to God Bless Texas on Dancing with the Stars. And not just for rockin the turntable in his sequel performance of Ice Ice Baby. During the 2012 Presidential primary debates, presidential-hopeful Rick Perry rattled off three government departments that he felt should get the ax entirely—the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the Department of… well, he couldn’t remember the third department at the time. Fifteen minutes later, Perry was able to recall that he meant the Department of Energy—the agency which he may now be asked to head.
Rick Perry also serves on the board of Energy Transfer Partners—the company responsible for the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline. Although he may give up his seat on the board, the conflict of interest, whether perceived or real, may sour his appointment—if not with the Senate confirmation hearings, then certainly with the media.
Rick Perry, the longest serving Texas governor in history, was one of the first to jump on the Trump bandwagon in May, after Trump took the Indiana primary over Ted Cruz, but not before Perry, during the 2015 primaries, lashed out at Trump, referring to Trump as a “cancer on conservatism” and a “barking carnival act”—something that not everyone on the transition team is likely to forget anytime soon, even though it came after a true-to-form Trump Tweet:
I guess now is the time for letting bygones be bygones.
As for Rick Perry’s credentials, he holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science, and served five years in the Air Force flying C-130s during the Cold War ‘70s, eventually holding the rank of captain. His unit flew disaster-relief missions, including to Chad and Mali.
Until 1989, Rick Perry was affiliated with the Democratic party, serving as a Democratic representative in the house, and vigorously backing climate change advocate Al Gore in his Democratic primaries in 1988.
Perry is now dancing to a different beat. In a 2015 interview with The National Review, Perry spoke of some striking geopolitical similarities he sees between when he served in the Air Force and today.
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“Carter came into office and started to hollow out the military, the economic malaise, our hostages in Iran — you see this parallel of what’s going on today. A bit more than a decade later, the Berlin Wall fell and Soviet Communism was defeated because a president came along who understood how important it was to have a strong economy that in turn allows you to afford a strong military, and strong diplomatic influence in the world.”
This understanding closely aligns with Trump, and in Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign, Perry spoke of the need for a smaller federal government and stood on a platform of developing US energy security—another cause that Trump has been passionate about all along the campaign trail.
Although Trump has not yet decided who will be Energy Secretary, these views likely put him near the top of the list.
If tapped, Perry would be the first Texan to be appointed to Trump’s cabinet—that is, unless Texan Rex Tillerson gets the nod for Secretary of State first.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.