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Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., said Tuesday that former South...

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., said Tuesday that former South Carolina Gov. James B. Edwards is getting the 'highest consideration' to be Ronald Reagan's energy secretary.

Thurmond said he had recommended Edwards for the post during a meeting with the president-elect in Washington last week.

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'I haven't heard finally,' Thurmond said in a telephone interview. 'But I understand it's getting the highest consideration.'

Rep. Carroll Campbell, R-S.C., a Reagan transition adviser, said Reagan 'has confirmed that James Edwards is his No. 1 choice for secretary of energy, but that doesn't mean he's secretary of energy yet.'

In Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Edwards said he would probably take the job if offered, but only so he could shut down the energy department -- something Reagan promised to do during the presidential campaign.

'I'd probably take it,' Edwards, 43, an oral surgeon who served as governor from 1975 to 1979, said. 'I'd like to go to Washington and close the Energy Department down and work myself out of a job.'

Thurmond and a group of Southern senators have complained to Reagan that he has not yet included any Southerners in appointments to Cabinet-level posts.

Previous speculation for the energy job had centered on John Sununu, a Tufts University professor, and Michael Halbouty, a Texas energy businessman.

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