Business

Plenty of Carolinas ties among Trump’s Cabinet selections

In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, Linda McMahon, who grew up in New Bern, talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump will nominate the wrestling executive to serve as administrator of the Small Business Administration, a Cabinet-level position.
In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, Linda McMahon, who grew up in New Bern, talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump will nominate the wrestling executive to serve as administrator of the Small Business Administration, a Cabinet-level position. AP

With his pick this week of Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration, President-elect Donald Trump continues to turn to individuals with Carolinas ties to fill out his Cabinet.

Here’s a look at some of the people he has nominated with Carolinas connections and some who may still be in the running, including outgoing North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

Trump’s picks

▪ Nikki Haley: On Nov. 23, Trump announced the South Carolina governor as his choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calling her “a proven dealmaker.”

Haley didn’t take questions at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony in Fort Mill, but some officials on hand said they were sorry to see her leave the governor’s mansion, where she was credited for recruiting new businesses to the state.

▪ Elaine Chao: Since 2011, Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary has served on the board of Wells Fargo, the banking giant that has its largest employee base in Charlotte. Recently, the company has been dealing with a scandal over fake customer accounts.

“Elaine has significant government and executive leadership experience, and her service as a member of the Wells Fargo Board of Directors, along with a multitude of other leadership accomplishments in both the public and private sectors, will serve her well in this important role,” Wells spokeswoman Jennifer Dunn said.

If confirmed, the former Labor secretary under President George W. Bush would replace former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. Chao has told Wells Fargo that she will step down from the board once she is confirmed. The board plans to add a new director once she departs, a person familiar with the matter told the Observer.

▪ Wilbur Ross: Trump’s choice for Commerce secretary is a turn-around investor who bought Greensboro-based textile companies Cone Mills and Burlington Industries through his W.L. Ross & Co. investment vehicle. In October, W.L. Ross sold these holdings to a private equity firm.

▪ Linda McMahon: Trump’s pick to lead the federal agency in charge of helping small businesses get loans is a North Carolina native and East Carolina University graduate.

With her husband, Vince, McMahon in the 1980s turned a regional wrestling company into the now-famous World Wrestling Entertainment.

McMahon grew up in New Bern in eastern North Carolina, near the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station where both her parents worked. Linda and Vince McMahon both graduated from East Carolina University, where their family’s foundation has an endowment set up to pay for three specialized professors.

▪ Andrew Puzder: The president-elect’s selection for Labor secretary is the chief executive of the company that operates the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains. CKE Restaurants bought Hardee’s, which was based in Rocky Mount, for $327 million in 1997.

Potential candidates

▪ Pat McCrory: North Carolina’s outgoing Republican governor was briefly spotted in Trump Tower in New York City on Wednesday morning, but McCrory gave no public indication of how his meeting with the president-elect went.

Transition team officials told reporters that the 60-year-old, one-term governor’s track record on education and regulatory reforms had caught Trump’s attention. They also pointed to McCrory’s background on energy issues, mentioning he had opened North Carolina up to fracking through the Energy Modernization Act in 2014.

“There is a very good rapport between the president-elect and Governor McCrory,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters. “Governor McCrory is someone who the president-elect had the chance to get to know pretty well on the campaign trail this year.”

▪ John Allison: The former CEO of Winston-Salem-based BB&T met with Trump Nov. 28 about the Treasury secretary job, but the President-elect later tapped former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as his pick.

In an interview with the Observer, Allison said he talked with Trump about other positions, but wouldn’t disclose specifics. He acknowledged interest in serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve, an agency he would like to see dismantled. The Wall Street Journal has also reported that Allison could be a contender for vice chairman of the Fed.

▪ Mick Mulvaney: The Republican congressman from Indian Land, S.C., is in “serious contention” to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, The Post and Courier of Charleston has reported.

▪ Dan DiMicco: The former CEO of Charlotte-based steel maker Nucor was put in charge of the transition team’s preparations for reshaping the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and there has been speculation that he could be in the running for the post himself.

▪ Tony Zeiss: The outgoing president of Central Piedmont Community College was said to have been in consideration for education secretary before Trump named Betsy DeVos.

Anna Douglas in Washington contributed

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

  Comments