Obama loses Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary: Where will both go next?

The biggest news to rock the Asian American political sphere broke today with this press release from the White House.

Whither Chris Lu?


Statement from the President on the Departure of Chris Lu


WASHINGTON, DC — The White House today announced the departure of Chris Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary.


President Obama said, “Chris Lu is one of my longest-serving and closest advisors, first crafting my legislative agenda in the Senate, then leading my Presidential transition, and most recently, managing my relations with the Cabinet.  Through his dedication and tireless efforts, Chris has overseen one of the most stable and effective Cabinets in history – a Cabinet that has produced extraordinary accomplishments over the past four years.  For that reason, I have asked Chris to consider other opportunities to serve in my Administration, and after he enjoys some time off, I hope he will consider those opportunities.  I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet in thanking Chris for his friendship and exceptional service to our nation.” 


At the last Inaugural in 2009, I saw and talked to Lu and saw him as a key person for the community. Indeed, over the last year he was the chair of the White House outreach group to Asian Americans. But he was also the high ranking Cabinet Secretary. This year, I wondered what his fate would be, if he’d go up, down or sideways in the administration.  

I didn’t expect it to be out of the administration.

Obama has been under attack for a lack of cabinet diversity (which I find hard to understand). But this will fuel the criticism.  Obama says wait and see until all the changes are made.  Indeed, even the Lu  press release indicates Lu’s been offered something else in the administration.

I suspect Lu’s either burned out from politics and wants a regular high-paying legal job.

Or he didn’t get what he wanted.  

Or he wants to step out from behind the shadow of a boss and run for office somewhere himself.

Still, it’s strange for Lu to be leaving. His ties with Obama go back, not just to Obama’s Senate days, but to their days as students at Harvard Law School.

The smart and talented Lu represents the kind of high level diversity the country and Obama needs. And as the release said, he’s done a good job.

What he does next, and what Obama does to replace him, will certainly be worth noting.