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Ex-Lawmaker Takes Baldrige Post Temporarily

July 28, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Clarence J. Brown Jr., a former nine-term Ohio Republican congressman, took over Monday as acting secretary of commerce as the Reagan Administration began a search for a successor to the late Malcolm Baldrige.

The death of the popular Baldrige in a horse-riding accident Saturday left the Administration without a key voice on trade issues at a time of sensitive negotiations with Congress and with U.S. economic allies.

Brown, 60, second-in-command as deputy commerce secretary for the last four years, held hastily arranged meetings Monday with senior staff officials of the 33,000-employee department.

While Brown was viewed as a serious contender for the post, speculation also centered on several other possibilities, including the undersecretary for trade, Bruce Smart, a Baldrige protege who has been actively involved in trade issues; Trade Representative Clayton K. Yeutter, and Labor Secretary William E. Brock III.

Officials said it was unlikely that President Reagan, who plans to attend a memorial service for Baldrige on Wednesday at Washington's National Cathedral, would nominate a successor until at least sometime after Baldrige's funeral on Thursday in Woodbury, Conn.

Government officials and leaders of the business community said that Baldrige, the Administration's point man on dealing with Congress on trade legislation and a strong advocate of business interests, would be hard to replace.

"He leaves a big vacuum at a time when the trade bill is coming close to some sort of resolution. Mac's credibility up on the Hill was very high," said Alexander Trowbridge, president of the National Assn. of Manufacturers and a former commerce secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Brown is also well-known in Congress, where he served for 17 years.

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