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Lots of Californians mentioned as candidates for Homeland Security post

Former U.S. Attorney for Southern California Alejandro Mayorkas is one of the names being talked about as a candidate to replace Janet Napolitano.
Former U.S. Attorney for Southern California Alejandro Mayorkas is one of the names being talked about as a candidate to replace Janet Napolitano.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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Janet Napolitano’s announcement that she’s leaving her cabinet position to head the UC System has fueled lots of speculation inside the Beltway about who will  be her replacement. Several candidates for Homeland Security Secretary have strong ties to Southern California.

President Obama could pick the man he’s already nominated for the number two job at Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas, who is currently head of citizenship and immigration services at DHS, is awaiting Senate confirmation nomination of his nomination for Deputy Director.

Mayorkas spent a dozen years in Los Angeles with the U.S. Attorney’s office, eventually becoming the youngest person to become the boss. Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba, attended college in California — UC Berkeley for undergrad, Loyola Law School for his JD. There has been pressure on the Obama administration to have at least one Latino in the cabinet, which could boost Mayorkas' chances. 

Another law enforcement pick might be former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton. The 65-year-old Boston native runs a security consulting firm these days and just started a social media network for law enforcement. Bratton had no comment on the Homeland Security post.

If the President’s looking for Capitol Hill veterans, he could tap former South Bay Congresswoman Jane Harman or current Anaheim Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Harman now heads the Wilson Center, a D.C. think tank, and served on both the Intelligence and Homeland Security committees. Harman says no one's contacted her and she already has the "plum job in Washington." 

Sanchez currently serves on the Homeland Security committee and is the top Democrat on Armed Services. But she's formally endorsed Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on Homeland  Security, saying his knowledge of ports gives him “really in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep our country safe.” There are backstage indications, however, that Sanchez is actively interested in the job.

Other candidates without strong Southern California ties include: current New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly; John Pistole, the boss at the Transportation Security Administration; Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA; Thad Allen, who oversaw cleanup after the BP oil spill; and even Joe Lieberman, the former Connecticut Senator and VP candidate.

The D.C. speculation game is likely to last all summer: Napolitano will stay in the job until September.