Flournoy Pulls Out of Defense Secretary Race

By Kevin Baron

November 25, 2014

Michele Flournoy has pulled herself out of the race to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Flournoy notified members of the board at the Center for a New American Security, the Washington think tank she co-founded, that last night she informed the White House she had taken herself out of the running for the job. Flournoy in her letter said she wanted to stay focused on her family, according to a source familiar with the situation. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his resignation Monday.

Flournoy, CEO of CNAS, and former under secretary of defense, quickly had become the most likely candidate for the job in the minds of most Washingtonians. She would have been the first woman to lead the Defense Department. But like much speculation, this one may have been a bit too far. Flournoy already had been passed over for the job when President Obama chose Hagel to be Pentagon chief two years ago.

(RelatedWho Will Be the Next Secretary of Defense?

Flournoy’s pull back, first reported by Foreign Policy Tuesday afternoon, leaves only a few known names in the running, including former Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

But before speculators lay another bet, consider that nobody in Washington predicted the two previous names picked for the job: Leon Panetta and Robert Gates.

Flournoy did not immediately respond to attempts to reach her, but an assistant at CNAS said, “Unfortunately, we still have no comment.”

By Kevin Baron // Kevin Baron is the founding executive editor of Defense One. Baron has lived in Washington for 20 years, covering international affairs, the military, the Pentagon, Congress, and politics for Foreign Policy, National Journal, Stars and Stripes, and the Boston Globe, where he ran investigative projects for five years at the Washington bureau. He is a frequent on-air contributor and previously was national security/military analyst at NBC News & MSNBC. Baron cut his muckraking teeth at the Center for Public Integrity and he is twice a Polk Award winner and former vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. He earned his M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University, his B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond, and studied in Paris. Raised in Florida, Baron now lives in Northern Virginia.

November 25, 2014