Ralph Schlosstein knows what it takes to succeed on Wall Street. A co-founder of BlackRock (BLK), the largest asset manager in the world, Schlosstein today runs the independent investment advisory firm, Evercore (EVR).
But Schlosstein also knows Washington pretty well, having worked there from 1974 to 1981, initially as Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department and later as Associate Director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff, advising President Carter on urban policy and economic development. His wife, Ambassador Jane Hartley, is also a former Carter administration official and was a top campaign fundraiser who reportedly raised $500,000 for Obama in 2012. She was tapped as the United States’ top envoy to France and Monaco last year.
Schlosstein, the self-made man who knows business and politics so well, thinks Washington needs fixing. In the attached interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer, Schlosstein says a lot has changed since his time in Washington. “While there were certainly partisan politics at that time, on most issues there was a solid core of the Democratic party and the Republican party-- both sides-- who would generally vote to do the right thing for the country,” he says. “And if a president called up, it didn’t matter which party he was, if he was calling a senator or a congressman of the opposite party and he said, 'This is really important for the country,' they generally got the vote,” according to Schlosstein. That isn’t the case anymore, he says.
Schlosstein—who says he has no plans to get into politics-- thinks the divisiveness on Capitol Hill stems from the primary process where candidates are always eyeing that next election. “Unfortunately, we have a process where the extremes of the parties dominate… It’s so much harder to get a central consensus,” he says. Schlossteins says it will take “a very strong and respectful leader to break that down.”
So what does Schlosstein think of the race shaping up for the 2016 presidential election? With a crowded Republican field, he says it’s going to take a little while for the GOP to sort itself out. “There is no one who you would say is odds-on favorite or even 2 to 1. But I think the lowest odds horse in this year’s Kentucky Derby was about 3 to 1. I would probably put [Jeb] Bush around there.”
The reason why? In a word, money. “Not necessarily because of his view on this or that because his views in some respects are not necessarily right up the center of the fairway of the Republican primary voter. They are much more up the center of the fairway of the national election voter,” he says. But Bush will likely have an edge because he has an overwhelming lead in fundraising. According to Schlosstein, a Bush campaign insider says that Jeb Bush has as much if not more in his war chest as all the other GOP candidates combined.
On the Democratic side, Schlosstein says it’s almost impossible not to see Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee. Whether or not Clinton has Schlosstein’s support is another question. When asked, Schlosstein points out he has supported Republicans on the city level: Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg each time he ran, and Rudy Giuliani in one mayoral election.
“I have never found a Republican at the national level that I prefer to the Democratic candidate,” he says. “But it’s always possible.”
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