Email: Granholm lobbied for Obama’s energy post

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Jennifer Granholm, then in her second term as governor of Michigan, asked to be considered for the post of U.S. Energy secretary four days after Barack Obama’s election as president in November 2008.

Using her state government email address, Granholm indicated her interest to John Podesta, who was then co-chair of Obama’s transition team. Her message was among the hacked Podesta emails recently released by the website WikiLeaks.

“I know the Secretary of Energy cabinet position is highly sought after, and I am certain the transition team has many terrific candidates. I’d respectfully like to add my name to the list. If I can be of service, I would be an effective and loyal and deeply committed member of the team,” Granholm wrote to Podesta on Nov. 8, 2008.

Granholm said publicly at the time she was focused on being governor, but it was later reported that she was on Obama’s short list for labor secretary. She declined to comment Tuesday.

Granholm said in the email to Podesta that she was attaching “self-serving” clips and details about energy initiatives in Michigan, and touted her work to replace the state’s “dwindling manufacturing jobs with clean tech and renewable energy jobs.”

“I have included some information about how I have been able to manage what has been the most challenged state in the nation,” Granholm wrote as Michigan struggled to pull itself out of the recession.

“Finally, John, it should go without saying that I’m a happy camper no matter what happens. I am certain President Obama will need partners ‘on the ground’ in the states as well; I love my job, and I will be happy to complete my second term as governor if DOE is not available.”

Obama eventually chose University of California Berkeley physicist molecular biology professor Steven Chu to be energy secretary – the first scientist chosen for the position.

In 2008, Granholm initially supported Clinton for president but later campaigned for Obama and was part of his team of economic advisers after he won the Democratic nomination.

The week after Chu’s selection in December 2008, Granholm’s spokeswoman Liz Boyd told reporters the governor was not interested in an Obama cabinet position and would not accept one if offered.

“The governor made it clear she does not want to be considered at this time,” Boyd said at the time.

This election cycle, Granholm has been a surrogate and close ally of the former secretary of state in Clinton’s second bid for the White House. Granholm co-chairs Clinton’s transition team, which organizes the infrastructure and staffing that would be needed if Clinton wins the election. Podesta is now chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Granholm, a regular political commentator on cable news, also serves as an adviser to the pro-Clinton Correct The Record super political action committee, which responds to Republican attacks on Clinton’s record.

In Lansing, political analyst Bill Ballenger recalled speculation in 2008 that Granholm would be tapped for the cabinet or another post within the Obama administration, just as there is speculation that she could serve in a new Clinton administration next year if the former New York senator is elected.

Granholm’s name is mentioned in Democratic circles as a possible candidate for attorney general, U.S. Supreme Court justice or Democratic National Committee chair.

But Ballenger frowned on Granholm’s use of her government email for such a purpose.

“It’s obviously to further her own personal ambition, and it’s using state resources to seek a job from someone else in the middle of her term. It just doesn’t look good,” he said.

Since leaving office, Granholm moved to California, where she taught public policy at the University of California Berkeley.

Granholm was the first woman to be elected as governor of Michigan in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. Before then, she served as Michigan’s attorney general from 1998-2002.

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Jonathan Oosting and Chad Livengood contributed.