Why you should care
These trusted sidekicks could be the next to garner national attention.
We know that you know about some of Hillary Clinton’s insiders, whether it’s a longtime aide (Huma Abedin) or adviser (like campaign chairman John Podesta). And then there are the ones who might even get to stand next to her on stage as VP — Julian Castro, Cory Booker or maybe even Kamala Harris.
But when Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, as OZY predicts, some names will reap national fame for the first time. These are just some of those possible key insiders, some of whom could be pivotal in helping her secure a home (again) in the White House.
The Power Couple
Nope, I’m not talking about Bill and Hillary. There’s another married couple — Tony West and Maya Harris (whose sister happens to be Senate hopeful Kamala). The formerly single mom, who became one of the youngest law school deans in the country at the age of 29, now sits as a senior policy adviser to Clinton. She’s tasked with the hard and timely stuff — issues involving social justice, human rights and diversity policy. Her résumé bolsters her ability to tackle that territory for Clinton — she’s made pit stops at the Ford Foundation and the Center for American Progress (where Hillaryland resident and policy wonk Neera Tanden sits at the top).
And then there’s West, the handsome attorney now working with Pepsi, who Wall Street feared during his time in the Obama Justice Department. He also worked in another Justice Department — during President Clinton’s era — and maybe Maya could pull him back for round two. If Hillary wins and they both sign up, they could become an interesting, new featured couple in Hillaryland.
The Campaign Gun
The 36-year-old Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook foregoes the formal “Robert” in favor of the more familiar, boyish “Robby.” It seems to have worked in upping his likability factor. While he may be a few years younger than David Plouffe was when he served as Obama’s ’08 campaign manager, don’t underestimate Mook’s experience — or his powers of persuasion. After his emails leaked (he and Clinton seem to have more than their politics in common), it turned out he had a band of Democratic allies who loosely formed what’s been dubbed a “Mook mafia.”
Before his latest post, Mook, a Columbia grad, made waves in ’08 by organizing wins for a disintegrating Clinton campaign in Nevada, Indiana and Ohio. The gains weren’t enough to declare a comeback, but the effort pushed Mook into the national spotlight. As did winning the governorship for Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe five years later in Virginia. Trust us, it was no small task, considering McAuliffe lost his previous Democratic nomination bid by 23 points. Ironically, Mook started his career in local politics in his home state of Vermont, though the Clinton consigliere isn’t exactly #FeelTheBern these days. If Clinton wins, Mook could become one of the youngest White House Chief of Staffs ever (Dick Cheney, by the way, became Ford’s Chief of Staff at the tender age of 34), or a special adviser to the president.
The Global Ally
And then there’d be two. How could Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel — the sole woman in power among the world’s top economies — not be ready for Clinton? Besides sometimes standing in solidarity next to each other, complete with complementary hairstyles and pantsuits, the pair’s camaraderie can be traced back to at least 2009, when Clinton reportedly received an email that Merkel was against the “Obama phenomenon” and likely looked forward to policy-pairing with the former first lady. From all accounts, we can expect the former East German chemist to run again in 2017, but a populist movement in Germany might be Merkel’s undoing. Clinton could tell her a thing or two about how to handle that if she defeats Bernie Sanders and bests Donald Trump. For a year — and perhaps longer — a Clinton-Merkel pairing would be a formidable force in addressing foreign policy concerns.
Sanders, and now Trump, have given Clinton a run for her money. But her sources of cash flow are pretty loyal. Among the most influential: Stephanie Schriock, who as president of Emily’s List helps steer funds to the campaigns of pro-choice female politicians. Since early in Clinton’s campaign, the Montana native has been a big promoter.
There’s also the deep-pocketed Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, who’s sort of a Demoratic Sheldon Adelson. Back in 2012, a Clinton aide wrote in an e-mail to Clinton that Soros said he regretted supporting Obama in the 2008 primaries while the two were at a dinner. (A representative of Soros says he has never said this publicly.) Soros tried to topple Dubya in 2004, to no avail; this time, the win could go in his favor.
The One From the Other Aisle
It’s Jedi versus Sith. Which prominent Republican could defect to Clinton’s side or even her cabinet? I think we’ll see a political détente with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. The firebrand has broken rank in the GOP before, on issues that have included immigration reform and climate change, and this would be a fitting foreign policy match. Then there’s the man from Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Could this purply Republican be in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services when his term’s up? Why not. William Weld, another Republican Massachusetts governor, put his hand up for an appointment when Bill Clinton was in office.