Jack Gerard, a confidant of Mitt Romney and president of the American Petroleum Institute since 2008, has long been touted as possible chief of staff.
Four years ago, retired Idaho Sen. Jim McClure, who was Gerard's boss and later business partner, told me Gerard might have been chief of staff had Romney won the GOP nomination and been elected president.
I got to know Gerard a bit in 2008, when I interviewed him for a profile about his rise from brilliant farm kid to congressional staffer, lobbyist and leader of the National Mining Association, American Chemistry Council and API.
Gerard, 54, is close to Romney and has helped him raise millions. He's also behind a $40 million ad campaign to boost the oil industry's image. He's capable, connected, a leader.
Said McClure in 2008: "He's just an incredibly able fellow."
The latest speculation about Gerard comes from Peter H. Stone in a long column that ran Monday in the Huffington Post. Stone is predictably breathless about the peril an fossil-fuel-friendly Romney administration, but he's done some good reporting.
"All roads lead to Jack," according to an unnamed lobbyist who spoke to Stone. "Jack is number one in town for Romney by far, and there's no number two. He's Romney's go-to guy in D.C., not just in terms of fundraising but politically as well."
Stone writes that "four veteran lobbyists familiar with Gerard and the Romney campaign say he's very well positioned if Romney wins to wield considerable influence and perhaps become White House chief of staff or land a plum Cabinet post."
In May, I wrote about the Gerard speculation, speaking with Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch, who said, “Gerard is a heckuva player in Washington, D.C. He’s well thought of, well connected, has incredible street cred. He’s certainly got the qualifications to do any of that.”
But Risch said a government job might not be all that attractive to a man who makes over $6 million a year at API. “What everybody forgets is with all these prestigious things that happen to us, we are still individuals interested in providing for our families and our future,” Risch said. “If you were in his position, would you do that?”
Gerard declined Stone's request for an interview. Not surprisingly, he demurred when I asked to speak with him today. Wrote API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel: "Sorry, we are not engaging in speculation!"
If Romney wins, I have my name in line to speak with Gerard. If he agrees, I'll let readers know what Gerard's role in a Romney administration would mean to Idaho.
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