According to sources in Washington, D.C., former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent, R-Des Peres, is now at the top of a short list of prospects to become secretary of defense in the rapidly forming cabinet of President-elect Donald Trump.
Until just a few days ago, the post was expected to go to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was instead tapped for the position of attorney general on Thursday.
In recent weeks, Talent has told other St. Louis news outlets he would consider any offer to serve, but was not forthcoming as to whether he had been contacted, or regarding what role in the defense department he might fill.
As of last week, Talent explained there are seven subsecretaries of state and dozens of other senior staff positions within the Pentagon and did not see himself as a prospect for the head of the department.
With his extensive background in federal government, having served in both the House and Senate, and his more recent work on the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Committee, to which he was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In the decade since he was defeated by Claire McCaskill, for his Senate seat, Talent has served on dozens of defense-related boards and committees.
After leaving the Senate in 2007, Talent joined The Heritage Foundation as a Distinguished Fellow specializing in military affairs and conservative solutions to poverty.
In 2008, he served as vice chairman of the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.
In 2010, he served on the independent panel that reviewed the Quadrennial Defense Review of the Department of Defense.
He also served on the independent panel that reviewed the Quadrennial Defense Review of 2014.
He also has been a member of the executive panel advising the Chief of Naval Operations.
In addition to his think tank work, Talent was the first national figure outside Massachusetts to endorse then Gov. Mitt Romney for president in 2007 and was Romney’s senior policy adviser in both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns for president.
Talent is currently a senior fellow and director, National Security 2020 Project, Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the America Enterprise Institute.
During his time as a federal representative, Talent made many visits to Franklin County and was involved win the sheriff department’s war on methamphetamine production in the county in the mid-2000s.
Before serving in Senate, Talent was elected to four terms in the U.S. House and also served in the Missouri legislature for eight years.
He ran unsuccessfully for Missouri governor in 2000, losing narrowly to Bob Holden.