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Garamendi May Get Interior Department Post

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi is a leading contender to become deputy secretary of the Interior, according to Clinton Administration sources.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is expected to meet with Garamendi this week to discuss job possibilities within the department, sources said, and at this point no firm offer has been made.

“Garamendi is a prime candidate (for the deputy secretary job),” an Administration source said Tuesday, “but officially, nothing has happened.” Babbitt might signal his intention to nominate Garamendi later this week, the sources said.

The job has been vacant since the Clinton Administration took over two years ago.

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Garamendi could not be reached for comment, and Interior Department public affairs officials could not confirm the report.

Garamendi was California chairman of President Clinton’s primary and general election campaigns. His wife, Patti, is director of recruitment for the Peace Corps in Washington.

Administration officials said Babbitt has long believed that the deputy secretary job would best be filled by a Californian. A number of departmental issues are important to the state, and Babbitt thinks a Californian could bring in needed expertise.

Among the areas bearing directly on the state are new national parklands in the Mojave Desert, management of the Presidio in San Francisco and endangered species programs in Orange, San Diego and Kern counties.

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Garamendi has been expected to land an Administration job after he lost the Democratic primary for the gubernatorial nomination to Kathleen Brown in June.


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