Kantor Picked to Replace Brown as Commerce Secretary

Article excerpt

President Clinton named U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor Friday to replace Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who was killed April 3 in a plane crash in Croatia.

Kantor was appointed two days after Brown's funeral. Kantor vowed to continue Brown's legacy.

Clinton also filled two other vacancies among his team of senior economic officials, naming Franklin Delano Raines, now vice chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association, to become director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and promoting Kantor's deputy, Charlene Barshefsky, to become acting trade representative. Kantor's confirmation by the Republican-led Senate seems assured. "He probably will be widely supported on the Republican side," said Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan. "I've worked with him, found him to be very fair and a good person to work with." Both Brown and Kantor had served Clinton as political advisers. Brown was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1989 to 1992, and Kantor was chairman of Clinton's 1992 campaign. Kantor is as combative a personality as Brown was charming. They used to joke, Clinton said, that "they were the Alphonse and Gaston of our economic team. Mickey was the bad cop, Ron was the good cop. I thought we ought to give him (Kantor) a chance to be a good cop for a change." Kantor's life has been touched by loss. His first wife, Valerie, died in 1978 in an airline crash in San Diego. Ten years later he lost a son in an automobile accident. Kantor will be moving from a U.S. trade office employing only about 600 people to become a Cabinet-level secretary overseeing an empire of government agencies employing more than 35,000. Among the department's many roles are to assemble and analyze reams of data about the U.S. economy, to promote U.S. exports and to administer scientific agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Patent Office and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. …