Tim Geithner says he staying on as Treasury Secretary through the rest of President Obama’s first term, but FOX Business has learned that the White House continues to maintain a list of possible replacements that includes the usual coterie of outside successors such as Blackrock chief executive Larry Fink, and Roger Altman, chairman of investment banking boutique Evercore Partners.
Both men are said to be interested in the job, according to people who know them, but if Geithner were to leave today, his most likely successor would be someone already in the administration: White House chief of staff William Daley.
In recent months, Daley has made no secret of his agitation with his current role with former Wall Street associates (the president continues to rely on senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on the most important issues, Daley has told people) and his desire to become Treasury Secretary if Geithner should step down or if the president wins a second term and Geithner, as expected, leaves.
Geithner has already signaled that he’s likely to stay until the end of the first term, after weighing a possible early exit as Treasury Secretary, both first reported by the FOX Business Network.
Daley, meanwhile, is quietly lobbying for the job — and according to people close to the White House, he’s making the strongest case to win it if and when that time comes.
“He’s wanted that job for years,” said one person who is close to Daley and has knowledge of his activities, “and it if it opens up, he appears to be the front runner.”
A White House spokesman declined repeated requests for comment.
Of course, lots can happen between now and the 2012 elections, including Obama failing to win a second term. Daley, like other White House economic advisers who have recently left the administration, could fall out of favor with the president.
But Daley would bring an impressive resume to the job: He’s a long-time Democratic Party operative, hailing from Chicago where his brother and father served as mayor. He served as commerce secretary during the Clinton Administration, and later worked for JPMorgan.
Unlike some of the outside candidates who have worked in the banking industry most of their careers, Daley’s background is more associated with Democratic Party politics, particularly in the President’s hometown of Chicago.
In recent weeks, he’s been reaching out to the business community trying to soften the Obama Administration’s anti-business reputation. He has also been a front man for the president in pushing for his new jobs plan, set to be unveiled in a speech tonight.
But inside the Obama Administration Daley’s influence has been minimized, people who know him tell FOX Business, by Jarrett, who has the president’s ear on most major issues.
“He is being overshadowed by people like Valerie Jarrett and that has him wanting to do something else,” said another Wall Street executive with close ties to the administration.
And that something else is Treasury Secretary, these people say, though Daley might have to wait for the next Democratic Administration if the president’s dismal poll ratings translate into defeat in 2012.