Thompson Out and McClellan In at HHS?

High-placed sources in Wisconsin last week told HUMAN EVENTS that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson would shortly be leaving the Administration. Word of Thompson’s exodus came amid growing reports that Dr. Mark McClellan, head of the Food and Drug Administration, was the front-runner to take over HHS if the post of secretary came open.

“Tommy has been pretty open about telling friends back here that it was time for him to move on,” said a onetime staffer in the four-term former governor’s Adminstration in the Badger State, “I expect that he’ll go on a few boards and make some money for the first time in his life.” A state legislator since he was in law school, Thompson served as governor from 1986 until his appointment to the Cabinet by George W. Bush in ’00.

McClellan is a longtime Bush family friend from Texas and brother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Many conservatives are a bit apprehensive about his appointment, saying that McClellan has demonstrated too much of a love for federal government power through his support of regulating tobacco as a drug and his view voiced earlier this year that obsesity was a national crisis. But his appointment would continue a pattern Bush has shown so far with naming Condoleeza Rice as secretary of state and Alberto Gonzales as attorney general of turning to longtime associates for key Cabinet offices.