The Curious Case of Fred P. Hochberg

Is this the face of the next Secretary of Commerce? There is a small but steady drumbeat in the far reaches of the blogosphere that hopes that may be the case.

Mr. Hochberg is the former dean of the Milano School for Management and Urban Policy in New York. Prior to that, he was a board member of the Human Rights Comission and the Port Authority of New York. He also served as President of his family's company, Lillian Vernon–during which time, he turned the small mail-order company into a publicly traded corporate success story.

During the Clinton administration, Hochberg served as deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration. He holds a  BA from NYU and an MBA from Columbia.

However, besides those qualifications, there is one thing that has put Mr. Hochberg on the radar: he's gay.

The Obama cabinet is wonderfully diverse. It has men, women, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. It has people of all ages from all parts of the country. It even has Republicans. However, one thing that it does not have–that no cabinet has ever had–is an openly gay member. 

After New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration for the post, a small but steady drumbeat began to surface on some GLBT blogs suggesting that Hochberg was the man for the job. However, the nomination of NH Sen. Judd Gregg, followed by Hochberg's appointment to head the US Import-Export Bank quickly dashed those hopes.

But, the Gregg debacle has opened new hope for Hochberg's boosters. The belief is that the best way for Obama to redeem himself after nominating the conservative Republican (rated 33% by the Human Rights Commission) is to nominate the moderate-liberal Hochberg (former President of the Human Rights Commission). Hochberg has not been confirmed to serve as Import-Export Bank president, and scuttlebutt is he would serve in the position if asked. 

Will Fred P. Hochberg be nominated to serve as Commerce Secretary? It's admittedly an outside chance in a field crowded with so many highly qualified possibilities. But if Obama wants to add another to his administration's growing list of “firsts”, it remains a curious possibility. 

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