Just under a year ago, Hale Champion, vice president for financial affairs, ran in the Democratic primary as a delegate pledged to presidential candidate Morris Udall.
Udall didn't get enough support in Massachusetts to send Champion to the convention, and it looked as if Champion's reentry into real world politics--before he came to Harvard he had worked for Edmund G. Brown, former California governor, and was a two-time delegate to Democratic conventions--was going to be shortlived.
But Champion's credentials in financial affairs are impressive. Before he came to Harvard in 1971, he worked as vice president for finances and planning at the University of Minnesota, director of finances for the state of California and as director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
So it wasn't all that surprising that Champion's name would come up for consideration when Carter's transition team began looking for an Under Secretary for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
And apparently Champion was offered that position this week. Washington sources say the chances are "better than 95 per cent" that he will be appointed to the post, and The New York Times reported yesterday that he already has it in the bag.
No one would openly confirm the rumors, however. Sub-cabinet appointments are only official when they have been announced, and HEW Secretary-designate Joseph A. Califano Jr. didn't mention his choice for under secretary in his confirmation hearing before the Senate yesterday.
But Sandy Winston, who is handling Califano's press affairs, said yesterday that the announcement would "normally" be made by President-elect Carter--who can announce it whenever he chooses.
Carter has repeatedly stressed his determination to look for women and minorities to fill sub-cabinet positions, especially because his cabinet choices don't precisely reflect his promise to give those groups more input into government policy.
But HEW's budget is larger than that of any other federal program, and Califano, a lawyer, is not a financial expert. Champion, a self-proclaimed liberal, is.
Champion could not be reached for comment yesterday, because he spent the day in meetings with HEW's transition staff. Maria T. Champion, his wife, declined to comment on the rumored appointment.
Until Carter or Califano decides to put an end to the rumors, no one can be quite sure that Champion is going to Washington. But for now, it looks as if President Bok will have to start looking for a new financial vice president when he gets back from his tour of East Asia.