The big money on the next attorney general is split between two camps: consummate Washington insiders with serious policy credentials and prominent political backers of President-elect Barack Obama, says Politico.com. Politico previously had mentioned Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as leading candidates. Now, the Web site features Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. A former U.S. attorney and the state's first female attorney general, the Democrat has the requisite law enforcement experience and would help Obama bring gender balance to his Cabinet.
Inside-the-Beltway candidates include two former deputy attorneys general under President Bill Clinton: Eric Holder and Jamie Gorelick. Holder, who helped lead Obama’s vice presidential search, is a favorite among insiders. A former U.S. attorney, Holder is a respected prosecutor who falls neatly into the role of top cop. Gorelick, a member of the 9/11 Commission, would bring national security credibility. She backed New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Another name making the rounds is Democratic lawyer Ken Feinberg. Well-respected on both sides of the aisle, Feinberg was tapped by Attorney General John Ashcroft to head the $7-billion fund that compensated the families of those killed or injured in the Sept. 11 attacks. Feinberg worked pro-bono for almost three years to distribute the money. Caveat: eight years ago, the leading AG candidates were said to be then-Govs. Frank Keating of Oklahoma and Marc Racicot of Montana. There was not a mention of the eventual nominee, Ashcroft.