Knowles 'flattered' but not contacted for cabinet job

Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- An aide to Gov. Tony Knowles is trying to knock down rumors that the Democratic governor is being considered for a cabinet job in a Republican Bush administration.

David Ramseur said Knowles and Texas Gov. George W. Bush were fraternity brothers at Yale, they talk occasionally on the phone and usually get together at governor's conferences. But the relationship ends there, he said.

Ramseur was referring to reports that Knowles would be chosen as Interior secretary in a new Bush administration should the Texas governor emrge the winner over Vice President Al Gore.

Ramseur, who is Knowles' deputy chief of staff, said that to the best of his knowledge, the governor was not offered nor has he pursued a job with either Bush or Gore.

''But he's flattered to have his name bandied about,'' Ramseur said.

Rumors about a Cabinet position for Knowles picked up speed last week when Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, told a reporter that the governor would be a wise pick should Bush win the presidency.

The rumors peaked when it was learned that Knowles spent part of the week attending an Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission meeting at San Antonio. Knowles is the panel's current chairman.

Many were speculating out loud that he took a personal day to visit Bush's ranch and talk about the possibility of a new federal job.

Ramseur said that wasn't true. Knowles was in Texas only for the oil and gas meeting, he said.

''He did not go to Austin or meet with George W.,'' Ramseur said. ''I would know if he did.''

Although Bush and Gore are caught in an election standoff while the vice president launches legal challenges to the Texas governor's 537-vote win in Florida, Bush has created a transition team to help shape his administration.

Bush said Tuesday that if emerged the winner, then he would try to heal partisan rifts by reaching out to Democrats and Republicans alike.

People working with the Bush-Cheney Transition Team, headed by Dick Cheney, wouldn't confirm or deny whether Knowles was being considered for a job with the Bush administration.

''We're declining comment on any nominees,'' Juleanna Glover Weiss, the group's spokeswoman, told the Anchorage Daily News.

Art Hackney, co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Alaska, said the process of considering people for positions with Bush was unofficially started last Friday. But the governor's involvement was talk only, at this point, Hackney said.

''The Knowles thing is hypothetical,'' he said. ''But the Bush administration would be looking at filling positions in a bipartisan way, just like Clinton did.''

Bush and Knowles have kept in touch since their college years, Ramseur said.

''When George W. worked in Alaska in the 1970s, Knowles was running a hamburger joint and George W. came and visited him,'' Ramseur said.

Today, the men have a largely professional relationship, Ramseur said. They talk occasionally on the phone and connect during governors conferences.

But, would Knowles take a Cabinet post?

''It's not something he lays awake at night thinking about,'' Ramseur said. ''He has two years left as governor. He has a full legislative agenda and a lot of issues in the state he's focusing on.''

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