President-elect Barack Obama's office announced this afternoon that Tom Daschle, the former US senator who was a key early backer, will oversee a transition policy working group on healthcare.
But several media outlets are reporting that Daschle's role will extend into the new administration as health and human services secretary.
Daschle, first elected to the US House from South Dakota in 1978, moved up the Senate in 1986 and eventually became the Democratic leader. He is a fellow at the Center for American Progress, one of the most important Democratic-leaning think tanks in Washington, and is co-chairman of the ONE Vote ’08 Campaign to address health and poverty in the developing world in a more aggressive and successful way.
He was instrumental in providing credibility to Obama's longshot bid for the Democratic nomination. But there's one potential hiccup -- Daschle's wife is a lobbyist in Washington, and Obama has promised to lessen their influence.
UPDATE: The Republican National Committee quickly panned the pick as more of the same instead of the change that Obama promised.
"Barack Obama is filling his administration with long-time Washington insiders. Since losing his Senate seat, Tom Daschle has worked for a major lobbying firm. For voters hoping to see new faces and fewer lobbyist-connections in government, Daschle's nomination will be another disappointment. Obama promised to change America's health care system, but his nominee to be secretary is no change agent," Alex Conant, a RNC spokesman, said in a statement.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.