Virginia senator Tim Kaine may have the “inoffensive affable dad” vibe locked down as Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president, but at least one person eyed for the gig was far more interesting and deeply tied to the automotive world: Mary Barra, the current CEO and chairwoman of General Motors.
That information comes from the emails stolen from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and released by Wikileaks, as highlighted by our sister site Gizmodo. That list reveals Clinton’s “first cut of people to consider for VP” included philanthropists and tech giants Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Michael Bloomberg.
(At the very, very, very bottom of the list was Bernie Sanders. I’m sure both were incredibly excited at the prospect of working with one another.)
Barra’s presence on the list is fascinating. It’s not clear from all this how interested she was in the VP gig, or politics at all, or even how far she made it in the selection process. A career engineer and then executive before going on to lead one of the world’s largest automakers, Barra, 54, has never held public office.
She is, however, easily on the shortlist of best GM CEOs ever, even though the number of good GM CEOs could probably be counted on one hand. As someone who presided over GM’s ignition switch defect crisis and has since 2014 led it through the next phase of its post-recession turnaround, Barra has won accolades both in and outside of the car world for working to change the company’s culture, launch record-selling products and focus on a future centered around autonomy and mobility. She’s an interesting, smart pick.
I’ve reached out to GM to learn more about Barra’s involvement in the process and will update when I hear back.
Barra wasn’t the only person in the world of transportation on that list. So was Anthony Foxx, the current U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Like Barra, he’s another leader who’s been considerably better than his predecessors, and has presided over a smarter, tougher National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that’s finally taking some steps—slow as they may be—to figure out how to regulate and legislate autonomous cars.