Canton Repository

1-10-01

Taft backs Ohioans for Bush posts 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Repository Washington correspondent 

WASHINGTON — Ohio Republicans are pushing two more names for high-level positions in the Bush administration — retired business executive John Ong and former Ohio environmental chief Donald Schregardus.

Meanwhile, Timken executive Stephen A. Perry might have another shot at becoming U.S. labor secretary after the withdrawal Tuesday of designee Linda Chavez, according to Republican sources.

Gov. Bob Taft has promoted Perry for that position or another senior-level post before Vice President-elect Cheney.

A spokesman for President-elect Bush’s transition team declined to say whether Perry would be considered for labor secretary or who other candidates might be.

‘‘We’re not going to speculate ... as with every position,’’ spokesman Scott McClellan said. ‘‘We will make an announcement when we are ready to move forward.’’

Perry, senior vice president for labor relations and workplace safety at Timken, was pushed for labor secretary by Taft before Bush nominated Chavez to the position.

The Timken executive also has been mentioned as a prospect to head the General Services Administration or Office of Personnel Management.

Taft also is pushing Ong and Schregardus for other senior positions, said an official in the governor’s administration, who spoke on condition of not being identified. The governor urged last week that Ohioans be named to high-level positions in the Bush administration. The state was critical in electing Bush.

Ong, 67, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of B.F. Goodrich, is being pushed for any number of high-level spots, including a position with the Commerce Department or an ambassadorship, a Taft official said.

Ong, who lives in Hudson, submitted his resume and other information to the Bush-Cheney transition team ‘‘but I’ve had no discussion with them,’’ he said. Ong would be interested in a position ‘‘if it was one that I thought I could bring some skill and experience to,’’ he said. No specific position has been discussed or offered to him, he said.

Taft is promoting Schregardus, 50, of Columbus, for a senior position in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Now a consultant, Schregardus served as director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency from 1991 to 1999.

He also has experience in the U.S. EPA, where he was chief of compliance in the water division for a six-state region from 1985 to 1989.

Schregardus has not had any contact with the administration transition team, he said. But he submitted his resume to staff of Republican Sen. George Voinovich’s office, who he said first approached him about seeking a position with Bush.

Schregardus said he would be interested in administrator of the EPA’s Region 5, which includes Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota along with Ohio.

Another option would be to serve as an assistant administrator for water program in Washington, he said.

While Schregardus said he did not work on or contribute money to the Bush campaign, Ong helped raise money for the campaign as a member of Bush’s national finance committee.

Taft also is promoting Ohio Lt. Gov. Maureen O’Connor for a job in the Justice Department.