It’s difficult to quantify whether Jews are in line to hold any sort of a record number of top positions in the Obama administration or the next Congress, but it’s clear that a large number of Jews stand to serve in key positions.
Among the latest is U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman.
The California Democrat dethroned Michigan’s John Dingell to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel has jurisdiction over critical areas including potential legislation setting pollution standards, health care and energy policy.
Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia will be the No. 2 Republican leader in the House, where Reps. Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman Schultz saw their stocks go up after their campaign efforts on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama in Florida.
In addition to Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff, Ron Klain will play the same role for Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod will serve as a senior advisor to the president.
Penny Pritzker, the Hyatt hotel heiress, was supposedly in line to head the Commerce Department, but The Washington Post says she’s unlikely to take the job. Politico quotes unnamed officials saying she took herself out of the running because of concerns that past business dealings would pose confirmation problems.
Pritzker was named one of the top picks on this year’s Forward 50 list.
Another name being thrown around for a possible administration posts include Larry Summers at Treasury.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m.
Jews still questioning whether they will have a strong ally in the next White House may have their answer.
In one of his first decisions, President-elect Barack Obama has asked Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to be White House chief of staff, according to three leaders in the Jewish community and Washington insiders.
Emanuel worked in the Clinton White House.
When Emanuel lived in the Washington, D.C. area, he was a member of Agudas Achim Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Alexandria, Va.
“Rahm Emanuel and hopefully many other Jewish Americans will have a role in helping to move the country in a new direction,” said a Washington lobbyist.
A formal announcement is expected this afternoon.
UPDATE Emanuel was said to be mulling the offer, which wasn’t part of the career trajectory he planned. But media reports now indicate that he has in fact accepted the position.