selects Vilsack for ag post
GLOVER, Capital Press 12/16/08
Iowa (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama has selected former Iowa
Gov. Tom Vilsack to become his agriculture secretary, according to
Democratic officials familiar with the selection process.
Obama will announce the nomination of Vilsack on Wednesday, the
officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they
were not authorized to discuss the selection before the
announcement. Obama also plans to announce his nomination of
Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as interior secretary at the same news
conference, other Democratic officials said.
Vilsack will be the fourth former opponent of Obama in the
campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to join
his new administration. Others include Vice President-elect Joe
Biden, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been tapped for
secretary of state, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, selected
to head the Commerce Department.
Vilsack announced his presidential candidacy in late 2006,
positioning himself as a Washington outsider with heartland
appeal, but he dropped out before the primaries because of an
inability to raise money. He endorsed Clinton and campaigned
actively for her in the long primary campaign against Obama. After
Obama defeated Clinton, Vilsack endorsed him.
First elected governor in 1998, Vilsack, 58, carved out a
reputation as a political centrist. He balanced Iowa's budget and
resisted raising taxes, but he was willing to spend money on such
priorities as education and health. He argued that pushing
alternative energy sources was key to bolstering rural sections of
the nation that are struggling economically and with vanishing
Salazar will head a department that oversees oil and gas drilling
on public lands and manages the nation's parks and wildlife
refuges. Salazar is expected to try to balance the protection of
natural resources while tapping the nation's energy potential - an
approach Obama has said he wants.
Salazar co-sponsored a bill in Congress to create a new land
conservation system under the Interior Department's Bureau of Land
Management for permanently protecting 26 million acres of national
monuments, wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers. The
legislation died during the lame-duck session of Congress after
the November election.
The Colorado senator opposed drilling in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge and objected to the Bush administration's efforts
to lease Western lands for oil shale development. It will be up to
the Obama administration whether to go ahead with leasing.
If Salazar is confirmed as interior secretary, Colorado Gov. Bill
Ritter, a Democrat, will select a replacement to fill the last two
years of his Senate term. Before being elected to the Senate in
2004, Salazar was Colorado's attorney general. He also headed
Colorado's Natural Resources Department from 1990 through 1994.