THE BLOG
11/01/2012 01:13 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Predicting Mitt Romney's Pick for Attorney General

The pundits are all over the map in the race to predict Mitt Romney's pick for Attorney General. Who's rising, who's falling? Who knows?

But the pundits who follow such things see these legal stars as the top contenders:

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's star rose as she delivered a prime time rant against "Obamacare" at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. At that time she was even mentioned as a running mate, but the reasons given then serve equally well in promoting her towards the AG job. In Business Insider, Grace Wyler sums it up best:

Here's why Bondi might be on Romney's shortlist:

She's a woman. And she's young...
She's from Florida... the crucial swing state.
She tried to take down Obamacare -- and almost won.
She's really pretty.

New Jersey's caustic Gov. Chris Christie also won a round of unofficial nominations to the AG's office, resulting from his convention keynote appearance.

Political blogger Peter Ubertaccio, in the (Quincy, Mass) Patriot Ledger, noted that a cabinet appointment might save Christie from an uphill re-election battle at home.

Kevin Mooney made a stronger pitch for a Christie appointment in the American Spectator.

"While serving as the U.S. attorney in N.J., Christie aggressively prosecuted top officials in both major parties and applied the law evenly," Mooney wrote. "He would be an ideal pick as the next attorney general."

For his part, Christie shot down these trial balloons, a posture that could be entirely attributable to his self-interest in preserving loyalty among Garden State constituents.

Anthony Del Pellegrino, a Republican operative who manages the Whitehouse 2012 blog, presents a list for VP choices, which includes a list of credentials for Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval that would make him an ideal AG:

This man is a former State Assemblyman, federal judge, State Attorney General, Chairman of the state Gaming Commission and now the Governor of the rapidly growing state of Nevada. Being of Hispanic descent, In addition to his probable appeal to the Hispanic-American community, Sandoval is from an important swing state, is a charismatic, energetic, conservative with working class appeal and is a top notch campaigner.

But the most authoritative list of attorney general candidates comes from Reuters political writer David Ingram, who presents eight candidates that he attributes directly to the Romney campaign. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/29/us-usa-campaign-justice-idUSBRE89S05N20121029 Here is his list:

  • Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, head of the Chertoff Group consulting firm.
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, since moved to the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
  • Former White House Deputy Counsel David Leitch, general counsel at Ford Motor Co.
  • J. Michael Luttig, general counsel at Boeing Co.
  • Former deputy attorney general George Terwilliger, who is joining the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
  • Former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, general counsel at PepsiCo Inc.
  • Former Solicitor General Paul Clement of the Bancroft law firm, best known for arguing in March against Obama's healthcare law.
  • Former acting Attorney General Peter Keisler, now at the Sidley Austin law firm.

Perhaps what's most notable about this array is the one name that's not included: No longer do we hear the name of Colorado's own attorney general, John Suthers, a key figure in the Romney campaign here and a man whose name was bandied about as a potential Romney AG during and after the primaries.

For all Suther's apparent efforts to ride Romney's coattails to Washington, it appears that the Romney team may have taken note of what I call the "Suthers Trifecta," political blunders guaranteed to turn a confirmation hearing into a media circus. To wit:

  • Ignoring the history of other early-release prison disasters such as "Willie Horton" to free Scott Lee Kimball, who promptly went on a killing spree of three Boulder-area women and his own uncle.
  • Accepting and not returning $11,775 in campaign donations from a group of lenders, even as he was rewriting the regulations of those venders and giving rise to the appearance of a pay-to-play favoritism.
  • Loss of his legal war against two Sovereign Indian Tribes, guaranteeing his spot atop the watchlist of the powerful and well-funded Native American interest groups and possibly leading to a new banking solution for the marijuana industry that Suthers hates.

Suthers has a long record of opposition to the medical marijuana industry.

Ironic then, to consider that Suthers may unwittingly have given a huge boost to the weed industry. Here's how:

Medical marijuana dispensaries are forced to operate as cash-only businesses, forced to operate without credit card capabilities, bank deposits and check writing. Banks are federally regulated, and therefore prohibited from providing services to any business regarded by federal law as illegal -- such as medical marijuana.

But Suthers has created the opportunity to solve the banking problem for the industry he loathes. He did it by accident.

He didn't mean to lose an epic seven-year lawsuit that was both outrageously expensive and ill-advised. The suit was against two Native American tribes, the Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. It was a failed attempt to block the tribe's online loan operations in Colorado, a guaranteed loser.

Emboldened by their victory, the tribes could launch an online lending service to the state's pot shops? Want to buy some weed? Get a tribal credit card! Want to mortgage the farm? Go to a tribal bank! The tribes have immunity, and they've proven it in court!

I'd be shocked if this topic isn't at the top of the agenda at the next meeting of the state's medical marijuana trade group.