While much of the speculation on personnel changes in the second Bush Administration has focused on high-profile Cabinet secretaries like Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld, the word in GOP circles is that a number of personnel changes are likely soon inside the White House. Chief of Staff Andy Card has said publicly that he will likely not stay on in the second Bush term, and Republican insiders tell US News Bulletin that OMB Director Josh Bolten a former Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bush White House is interested in replacing Card if there is a vacancy. Also said to be interested is Commerce Secretary Don Evans.
Two of the "stars" of Bush's successful presidential campaign are "architect" Karl Rove and campaign manager Ken Mehlman. GOP insiders tell US News Bulletin that Mehlman is definitely slated for a promotion, but where he ends up is dependent on other moves above him. Some GOP insiders believe Rove might leave. He has engineered a victory in President Bush's last major political campaign and he may want to consider future challenges. Others believe he will stay out of loyalty, at least through the midterm elections, and could mastermind a major politics and policy campaign like Social Security reform. Bush is grateful to Rove for guiding him to a solid victory Tuesday and Rove may remain at Bush's side to establish a legacy for his boss that includes a Republican party that reaches permanent majority status.
If Rove leaves, GOP insiders believe Mehlman would replace him, provided Mehlman does not want to go to K Street and make a lot of money. If Rove does not leave, the expectation is that RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie will return to his lucrative lobbying firm, and Mehlman is frequently talked about as a replacement for Gillespie there.
GOP insiders also tell US News Bulletin about likely changes in the public liaison and domestic policy operations in the White House. There is also a widespread expectation that political director Matt Schlapp will leave the White House. Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the campaign and a Rove acolyte, is packing up his belongings in Washington today and flying back to his home in Austin, Texas, where he will return to the private sector. Dowd, a pollster who may land work as a strategic consultant for businesses, was considered one of the brightest lights in the Bush campaign.