The Buzz

Talent name remains on short lists for Trump’s Secretary of Defense

Jim Talent, seeking re-election in 2006
Jim Talent, seeking re-election in 2006 Getty Images

While local political eyes continue to focus on Kris Kobach’s future, Missouri Republicans are pointing to stories that former Sen. Jim Talent is on the short list for Defense secretary under President-elect Donald Trump.

Talent has written extensively on defense issues. He’s worked with the defense industry for more than two decades. And he may be looking for full-time work, which the DoD would provide.

“It’s a job Jim has wanted for a long, long time,” one Missouri Republican said Monday.

Trump is not considered particularly close to Talent, but reports suggest some mainstream Republicans are pushing Talent for the post. Talent supported Marco Rubio before the Missouri GOP primary.

Talent could not be reached for comment.

Talent was once an important figure in Missouri politics. His career was closely and interestingly intermingled with the death of former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in a plane crash.

After serving in the U.S. House, Talent ran for governor in Missouri in 2000, seeking to follow Carnahan. But Talent lost to Bob Holden, a defeat at least some Republicans blamed on a heavier-than-expected Democratic turnout following Carnahan’s death that October.

Carnahan remained on the ballot despite his death. He defeated incumbent Sen. John Ashcroft after Democrats pledged to appoint Jean Carnahan, Mel’s widow, to the seat.

But the appointment only lasted two years. In 2002, Talent ran against Jean Carnahan, and he prevailed.

In 2006, seeking his first full term, Talent lost to Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill. He hasn’t sought elective office since.

Talent’s wife Brenda now runs the Show-Me Institute, the St. Louis-based conservative think tank largely funded by Rex Sinquefield.

It isn’t clear if she would keep that job if Talent is nominated and confirmed as Defense secretary.