WASHINGTON — President Clinton issued a memo Friday directing Mary Lowe Good, the undersecretary of commerce and No. 2 official in the Commerce Department, to lead the agency until he names a successor to Ronald H. Brown.
The interim appointment came as some observers began to speculate about successors to the well-respected Brown, who was killed in a plane crash Wednesday on a Croatian hillside.
The department is one of the largest Cabinet agencies and also one that Republican budget cutters have their eyes on as a target for being scaled back or even eliminated altogether.
One of the names being circulated is that of White House advisor Thomas "Mack" McLarty, a longtime friend of President Clinton and a former White House chief of staff who once ran an energy company.
Another name being mentioned is that of Stuart Eizenstat, a domestic policy advisor in the Carter administration and former U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
He was confirmed just last week as undersecretary for international trade at Commerce.
Eizenstat "is well-schooled in trade policy," said Willard Workman, vice president for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
Good, a former chairman of the National Science Board, may also be a candidate, but one administration source thinks it unlikely someone with a science background would be a permanent successor. This source, who asked not to be named, said there are other "internal possibilities."
These include Dave Barram, former deputy secretary to Brown who is acting administrator of the General Services Administration, and Ginger Lew, former general counsel at Commerce who has been nominated as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Stan Duobinis, director of economic forecasting at the National Homebuilders' Assn., said the administration could keep an acting secretary until after November elections, when the Democrats hope to have won back some seats in Congress.
But Lawrence Chimerine, managing director of the Economic Strategy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said Commerce should not be left with an acting secretary. In such a case, he said, "it would be questionable whether funding would be maintained at the current level" for the department.
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Cause of Brown's plane crash still unknown. A10.