The Four People Who Could Replace President Trump's Labor Secretary Pick

February 15th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Hours after fast food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew him nomination as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Labor nominee Wednesday, journalists began speculating who might replace him. Mid-Wednesday, the Washington Post reported two possible replacements, "Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker." Walker, however sent the following tweet shortly after:

Later, Bloomberg News' White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs reported a list of four possible replacements. The White House has yet to make a formal nomination or comment on this list.

Puzder's resignation came amid a flurry of controversy over his past labor practices — including the hiring of an undocumented housekeeper — as well as revelations about alleged domestic abuse.

Jacobs tweeted a list of four individuals, who could potentially replace Puzder as nominee for labor secretary. ATTN: reached two of them by phone — former South Carolina Secretary of Labor Catherine Templeton and attorney Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Both confirmed that they had previously been in talks with the Trump administration, but declined to confirm the president's renewed interest in their potential nomination.

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011

ATTN: looked into the background of several of these names. Here's what you need to know about the potential replacements for labor secretary.

1. Catherine Templeton

catherine templeton

  • Templeton was appointed secretary of labor in South Carolina by Governor Nikki Haley in 2010. She served just over a year before joining the South Carolina Board of Health and Environmental Control, where she worked as the department's director.
  • Her tenure at the state's labor department was defined by efforts to deregulate the system. Dr. Louis Costa, chairman of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, commented, "What she did to clean up that agency and make it run like a private sector business — in just a year — was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Before entering the public sector, Templeton worked at the Greenville, South Carolina law firm Ogletree Deakins, where she developed a reputation as an anti-union crusader representing Fortune 500 companies, according to a press release. She has accused unions of using "dishonorable" methods to build support in Greenville, USA Today reported.
  • Templeton was expected to enter South Carolina's 2018 gubernatorial race, but postponed her formal announcement in January 2017.
  • She confirmed to ATTN: that she'd met with the president in December 2016, but she wouldn't comment on the nature of the conversation. She deferred questions about her prospective nomination to the White House.

2. Peter Kirsanow

  • Kirsanow was appointed to be one of five members on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by former President George W. Bush in 2001.
  • From 2006 to 2008, the attorney served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • "While on the Board, Kirsanow participated in a number of decisions that were criticized for undermining protections for unionized employees," according to the blog On Labor.
  • He is also known as a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, arguing before Congress in March 2016 that undocumented workers take jobs away from low-skilled Americans — particularly black people — and also contribute to the incarceration of black men by connecting lower wages due to immigration to criminal activity.
  • "I talked to [the Trump administration] a while back, but nothing substantive or definitive," Kirsanow told ATTN:, adding that "there's a lot of 'ifs'" as to whether or not he would accept a labor secretary nomination.

3. Joseph Guzman

  • Guzman teaches "economics of human relations, labor market policy analyses, and entrepreneurialism" as an assistant professor at Michigan State University.
  • He served as the co-chair of Trump's presidential campaign in Michigan and was also a member of the president's National Hispanic Advisory Council, the Detroit News reported.
  • "He has ample executive experience in the military and a variety of public-sector experience," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said of Guzman in January, according to the Detroit News.

4. R. Alexander Acosta

  • Acosta became the dean of Florida International University Law in 2009, after serving in "three presidentially-appointed, senate-confirmed positions" — including an attorney position on a federal appeals court, an assistant attorney general position at the Justice Department, and a Florida district attorney position, according to his university biography page.
  • He served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1990. He went on to serve as a federal judge on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • He was also a member of the NLRB from 2002 to 2003.
  • In 2003, Acosta was appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division for the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Hispanic Business Magazine has named Acosta one of the nation's 50 most influential Hispanics two times.

ATTN: reached out to the White House, but a representative was not available by the time of publication.