U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) is Obama’s pick for Secretary of Interior. Excellent pick. Salazar and Obama were standing next to each other when they were sworn into the Senate. Their Senate offices are side by side. They know each other.
Salazar is a 5th generation Coloradan. His family was in Colorado before there was a Colorado. Salazar was a water rights lawyer who ran Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources before he became Colorado’s Attorney General. There’s a saying out here in the arid west that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.
Take a look at his committee appointments:
* Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
o Subcommittee on Domestic and Foreign Marketing, Inspection, and Plant and Animal Health
o Subcommittee on Energy, Science and Technology
o Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit
* Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
o Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
o Subcommittee on National Parks
o Subcommittee on Water and Power
* Committee on Finance
o Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
o Subcommittee on Health Care
o Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, and Long-Term Growth
* Select Committee on Ethics
* Special Committee on Aging
The majority of these subcommittees directly address issues faced by the Department of the Interior. Salazar has worked across the aisle throughout his political career which is vital for success in dealing with many of the contentious issues at Interior.
But who will Gov. Bill Ritter appoint to the vacant seat? Sure this doesn’t have the celebrity drama with Caroline Kennedy’s possibly replacing Sen. Clinton. Nor does will it have the scandal with Gov. Blagojevich attempting to sell Sen. Obama’s seat. But it’s all the buzz in Colorado.
Some of the names floated are:
Names floated as possible successors include:
* Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
* U.S. Rep. John Salazar of Manassa
* U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden
* U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver
* Former U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland
* State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff
State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former Mayor, two-time Clinton cabinet member, and Obama campaign co-chair Frederico Pena have also been mentioned.
Salazar’s term runs through 2010. Anyone picked will need enough state-wide appeal to get re-elected. John Salazar (Ken Salazar’s brother), with his appointment to the House Appropriations Committee, would have more power by staying put. Diana DeGette’s got a ton of seniority in the House. Strickland has been off the stage for a while and Romanoff is a little green. That leaves Hickenlooper and Perlmutter. Hick likes running the show, and probably has his eye on the governor’s office, but you never know. Perlmutter would no doubt like to upgrade to the Senate.
The other question is why would Salazar want to leave the Senate? By all accounts he’s a rising star and has a promising future as a major leader in the Senate. Speculation is that Interior may be his dream job.
This won’t get the press that’s focused on New York and Illinois. And that’s a good thing for Colorado and the next administration.
Note: This brings about an interesting development. Rep. Mark Udall (CD-2) won the Senate race for the seat vacated by Wayne Allard. With Salazar leaving, Udall will be Colorado’s senior Senator on his first day as a Senator. Fortunately this shouldn’t be an issue. Udall is the son of former Rep. Mo Udall and nephew of Stewart Udall. He knows his way around the DC beltway.