Ken Salazar Accepts Secretary of Interior

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 19:41

Via Quick Hits, Ken Salazar will become Secretary of the Interior:

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar has accepted an offer to become Barrack Obama's Interior Secretary, CBS station KCNC-TV in Denver's Raj Chohan confirmed on Monday.

The Rocky Mountain News also reported a source within President-elect Barack Obama's transition team says Salazar was offered the Interior Secretary job and that he had accepted.

There are several items of note about this pick:

  • It is a real disappointment that Raul Grijalva wasn't the choice. Perhaps I spoke too soon about the degree to which Obama was listening to progressives during the transition. We seem to be nixing the occasional choice, but not achieving anyone who we are pushing.

  • It is worth noting that Raul Grijalva turned down becoming chairman of Ways and Means in order to stay chair of the Natural Resources committee. From this committee, he will have an ability to serve as a check on Ken Salazar. So, once again, we have a more positive development in the U.S. House than we appear to have in either the Senate or the Executive Branch.

  • Third, this is yet another Democratic Senate seat that will be filled via appointment. This could potentially be a positive, as Salazar was a fairly annoying Democratic Senator. He was a member of the "Gang of 14,", and was below average within the Democratic caucus on Progressive Punch. He wasn't the worst, and Evan Bayh didn't even appear to be targeting him for the new Senate Blue Dog caucus, but he wasn't exactly a particularly useful Senator for progressives, either.
Hopefully, Salazar's replacement in the Senate will not be his brother, who is a Blue Dog. That, plus the various corruption issues surrounding our Senate picks these days, would make him a poor choice.
Chris Bowers :: Ken Salazar Accepts Secretary of Interior

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Are you really nixing the occasional choice? (4.00 / 1)
We seem to be nixing the occasional choice, but not achieving anyone who we are pushing.

I think any perceived pushback is probably not accurate and that someone just likes to mention the most conservative possible choice as a way of generating attention.


To be clear (4.00 / 3)
Grijalva is chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks Forests and Public Lands, not the full Natural Resources Committee.  And he was never offered the committee chair on Ways & Means currently occupied by Charlie Rangel.  He does not serve on Ways & Means.  

You are absolutely right (0.00 / 0)
As you can often be!

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Can I Ask a Probably Naive Question? (4.00 / 1)
Why did we think that Grijalva fell out of favor with Obama?

Did we think (4.00 / 1)
he was ever in favor with him? He never gave indication that he was under serious consideration and surged too early.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
Meh (4.00 / 4)
I'm not convinced he was ever in favor.  He may have been thrown out there as a prop to show progressives how open-minded Obama was, that they were in contention for the top jobs.  But honestly, I don't believe there's been even one real progressive - and I'll define it loosely, someone from the liberal 50% of the party - appointed to the cabinet.  Chu is unimpeachably qualified and progressive on alternative energy, but I don't think anyone knows enough about his other views to call him a "progressive", per se.

[ Parent ]
Ramsey Clark (4.00 / 1)
The last Attorney General under LBJ was way ou there on the fringes.  (He also may have been picked to open up a Supreme Court appointment for LBJ by inducing Ton Clark, his father, to leave the SCOTUS due to a potential conflict of interest). Several other JFK/LBJ picks would also seem to qualify.  Henry Wallace was certainly extremely liberal and he was the very long term Secretary of Agriculture under FDR.  Elect a clearly liberal/progressive President and liberals wind up in the Cabinet.

Elect somebody from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and conservatives wind up in the cabinet.  That was true of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, at least on domestic policies.

[ Parent ]
Salazar is a HORRIBLE choice (4.00 / 5)

Really, really disappointed on this one.  Salazar is worse than Mike Thompson.  Salazar voted to open oil drilling off Florida, against global warming considerations for water projects, against ESA listings for prairie dog (as CO AG).  And is LCV score, remember, is from, what, 3 years as a Senator so it is not a good base.  Look at his term in Colorado where, as a former rancher whose brother is a farmer, he went to bat for industry.  Really upsetting choice.

So you want wolf reintroductions or protections?  Forget it.  Off road vehicle limitations?  Forget it.  Guns in national parks?  Oh Salazar is a huge backer of that!

Disagree substantially (4.00 / 2)
His environmental record as AG, excepting the prairie dog deal, is actually quite good.  He recognizes that protection of public lands in the West only works if there is a strong and diverse coalition to back it up, including hunters and environmentally responsible ranchers (they DO exist).  Also, he has a good understanding of how habitat protection is one of the key aspects of being SoI.

He has an unparalleled understanding of water law, and helped pass the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as a Senator.

Look, I've fiercely opposed the guy for years--he's a near-fascist when it comes to civil liberties, and his record on judicial appointments is abysmal.  But, the Department of the Interior is concerned with public lands, water issues, and American Indian issues; and, in these areas he'll be relatively progressive.  I think many of you will be pleasantly surprised by what he accomplishes--and prevents--as SoI.

Thankfully, we progressives in Colorado will be rid of him as a Senator, where he could do real damage on the issues on which he is distinctly un-progressive.

[ Parent ]
where? (0.00 / 0)

can you name some things, besides the lottery money, that salazar did that are particularly noteworthy from an environment standpoint as AG?  it is hard to find much at all.

incidentally, if you ask anyone that works for enviro groups whether or not "forcing coalitions" between environmentalists and ranchers works, they will tell you NO WAY.  it gets good lip service, raises money, and gets press.  but it never works out.  paying ranchers money for wolves killing livestock has totally and utterly failed.

[ Parent ]
He created an Environmental Crimes division... (4.00 / 2)
...for the first time in Colorado history and prosecuted many cases against corporate polluters including Thoro Products, Cooling Systems Intl, and the Summitville mining company. He's hardly a corporate stooge in this regard, and I'd challenge you to at least back up your assumption that he "went to bat for industry" with a few discrete examples.

The League Of Conservation Voters was an enthusiastic backer of Salazar's 2004 Senate run and called him an "environmental hero" based on his record as AG and at the Dept of Natural Resources. I can tell you that some on the right view him as an environmentalist nutcase, so it's ironic that some on the left think him just the opposite.

One can cherrypick some of his votes on specific amendments, the prairie dog thing, etc, but it should make you rethink your assumptions a little that you have Colorado progressives here who want him out of the caucus but are nonetheless defending his record on conservation, land use and Native American issues.

Here he is restating the scientific consensus and asserting the urgency of climate change. He's no climate change skeptic, and his background is in precisely the area he's being appointed to. He was a complete prick on some issues in the Senate, but he's competent and generally progressive vis-a-vis the portfolio he'll be given at SoI.

[ Parent ]
Two points (0.00 / 0)
1.  I worked in wolf research in the late 1980s in Montana, when the "Magic Pack" was just crossing in from Canada.  During that research we studied the "Minnesota model," which DID work to preserve wolf habitat and populations through carefully crafted compromises with ranchers.  This was a substantial improvement on the "shut up and shovel" model.  So, I think the facts do not support your contention as to wolves.

2.  Environmental enforcement enjoyed a heyday during Salazar's tenure as AG here.  Much of what the environmental enforcement division of the AG does, never makes it into the paper.  Suffice it to say that mining and other interests were elated when John Suthers replaced Salazar as AG.

[ Parent ]
Salazar is Far From a Horrible Choice! (4.00 / 3)
I've sent him many letters and e-mails complaining about some of his positions over the years, but he rather perfectly reflected Colorado.

In this state Independents hold the balance of power. It used to be that wing-nut R's outnumbered Democrats by about 4%, but now the parties are about equal. Independents decide every election here and Salazar knew how to appeal to them.

He was a moderate, who went out and campaigned for Joe Lieberman -- which pissed me off no end. And he certainly was useless on FISA amnesty for telecoms.

But, having him in the Interior Dept. serves 2 functions:

1. It gets him out of the Senate, and allows Ritter to appoint someone else. Hickenlooper would be the best choice and he'd win re-election in 2010 by a wide-margin.

2. Salazar himself will probably be a very successful executive. He has the capacity to build coalitions and get things done.

He certainly isn't liberal by any means, but he's most conservative on foreign and defense policy, which will have little or nothing to do with his new post.

And he's better on land-use, which will have a great deal to do with his job. He'll listen to his staff and we'll see a change in attitude in the Interior Department.

Just don't expect him to go in and "clean out the stables."  

[ Parent ]
Aside from being in the Senate (4.00 / 1)
and a few years as a junior member of the energy and natural resources cmte, what exactly is Salazar's qualifications to this post?

Looking at his Wiki page, it starts out:

Kenneth Lee Salazar (born March 2, 1955) is an American politician, rancher, and environmentalist from the U.S. state of Colorado.

But nothing in the article suggests why he deserves the title of "environmentalist"  

At least if we are going to have "he's the most competent/qualified" arguments, can we establish he actually is highly qualified for this post?  

His forte (4.00 / 3)
as Colorado's Attorney General was in the area of water law and environmental issues.  He was recognized as an expert in water law before becoming Colorado's AG, and served for 7 years as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

So, he's substantially more qualified than any SoI since Bruce Babbitt.

[ Parent ]
I know nothing of Colorado politics (4.00 / 3)
However, I am excited about the possibility of someone named "Hickenlooper" in the Senate. That is almost as awesome as the possibility of more headlines like "Slaughter for more campaign finance reform".

[ Parent ]
Not only that, (4.00 / 4)
Hickenlooper's past jobs include a stint as a micro-brewer!

[ Parent ]
Hick is pretty cool (4.00 / 1)
Of all the Colorado politicians with state-wide name recognition, Hickenlooper is probably the most liberal/progressive while being the most popular.

As Mayor of Denver he has an executive position, which is a better platform for the Governor position than the Senator one.  

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't start with his Wikipedia page. (4.00 / 1)
There's been a revision war on his bio over the past 24 hrs, with ~40 edits, including efforts to rewrite the entire entry and paint Salazar as a climate change skeptic and anti-environmentalist. You simply can't trust Wikipedia to give a balanced account with 72 hrs of a major news event like this. I always start with revision history in times like these.

[ Parent ]
Salazar is a DINO... (4.00 / 5)
...and as a Colorado voter, I'm ecstatic to see him exit the local scene.  He might be popular among conservatives in Colorado, but he's anathema to most Democrats.

At least as head of Interior, he'll be accountable to Obama.  As a blue dog in the Senate, he's been accountable to no one.

And I second the idea of appointing Hickenlooper to his vacant seat.

Whomever Obama appointed (4.00 / 1)
it is ultimately the President who makes the decisions and the policies.

Maybe the thing to concentrate on now, for the LCV, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, and us, are the undersecretaries and deputies. I don't know the names of those people, but the leadership of those orgs does. I'm going to contact them and make this point.

[ Parent ]
This again? (4.00 / 2)
it is ultimately the President who makes the decisions and the policies.

Tell that to the detainees who were made to stand for very long periods of time:

Only at one point in the documents, which were not scheduled to be declassified until 2013, does Mr. Rumsfeld express a personal sentiment. An action memorandum presented to the defense secretary on Nov. 27, 2002, recommends that he approve a number of interrogation techniques for use at Guantánamo, including one described as ''the use of stress positions (like standing), for a maximum of four hours.''

Mr. Rumsfeld, who labors in his Pentagon office at a stand-up desk, added this handwritten postscript: ''I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?''

There's a reason plenty of Senators and Governors are willing to give up these jobs to serve as Cabinet Secretaries:  Because it is very important job with lots of power.  

[ Parent ]
Answer to Obama? (4.00 / 2)
I take no comfort in that, since I've seen no evidence whatsoever that Obama is an environmentalist himself, especially on non-energy issues.

[ Parent ]
Obama had an excellent record (4.00 / 1)
inthe IL senate (I recall hearing that when he was running in 2004 in a 7-way primary most enviros were with him, as he was one of a half-dozen senators with 100% pro-environment voting records according to the big enviro. group in IL (sorry forget the nsme).

His environmental record in the U.S. senate has also been very strong (above the Dem. average), according to the League of Conservation voters.

[ Parent ]
so? (4.00 / 1)

voting is one thing, actually caring about the environment and having a passion for it is another.  obama doesn't understand environmental issues save for perhaps energy.  not does he appear to have much desire to understand.

[ Parent ]
Grijalva Correction (0.00 / 0)
I don't think Grijalva gave up being Chair of Ways and Means to stay on the Natural Resources Committee as the post says.  Grijalva isn't even a member of the Ways and Means Committee so there is no way he was going to be chair.  

I think you meant that he gave up a seat on the Ways and Means Committee because this is an exclusive committee meaning you cannot serve on any other one.

Which is wrong (0.00 / 0)
I'm 99 percent sure he got a assignment on Ways and Means which pretty much means he gave up being Interior Secratary.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
That Would Make Sense (0.00 / 0)
Ways and Means is one of the best Committee assignments in the House.  I was just trying to correct the idea that Grijalva was giving up being Chair of Ways and Means which is definitely incorrect.

[ Parent ]
Charlie Rangel would be really surprised (4.00 / 1)
to hear that he's being replaced as chair by someone not currently on the committee . . .

[ Parent ]
Pete Stark and Sandy Levin Too (0.00 / 0)
since they are 2nd and 3rd ranking on Ways and Means.

[ Parent ]
But You Missed the Big News (0.00 / 0)
Cleveland State shocks Syracuse, on a 60 foot buzzer beater no less.    

In the end, I like Ken Salazar (4.00 / 1)
I acknowledge Salazar's Moderate/Conservative record on FISA, Bankruptcy, Iraq votes, Lieberman, etc, but he is smart, and principled. I prefer him to the slew of Colorado Democrats who pretend to be Liberal, but in the end don't lead and don't end up with Progressive values.

For Interior, Ken Salazar has tremendous experience and competence in Water, Natural Resources, Farming, and Western Values. He has small-farmer roots and a modest background. He'll be able to expand the respect for Democrats throughout the Rocky Mountain West. I'd be interested to see how his competence carries over to Indian affairs. As for hunting and fishing... he's a rural, farmer, hunter guy, which is very different from being an NRA right-winger.

Ken's replacement is likely to be only slightly more Progressive than he was. Colorado is made up of very Conservative Republicans, and very Liberal Democrats, but the politicians with state-wide credentials are mostly Moderate to Conservative. Likely names include CO-03 Rep (and brother) John Salazar, CO-07 Rep Ed Perlmutter and the retired (via term-limits) House Majority Leader Andrew Romanoff. John Salazar is an unlikely Senate choice, as he can be depended on to retain his seat in Republican leaning CO-07. Ed Perlmutter doesn't have much state-wide name recognition. Romanoff is okay, but I'd describe him as cautious rather than being a true progressive leader.  Not that these other guys are bad, it's just that they are more establishment than liberal.

Denver Mayor Hickenlooper would be more Liberal, but he is an unlikely choice as his present job may be more significant than Senator.

Yeah (4.00 / 2)
but he is smart, and principled.

Publicly endorsing Bush's real estate lawyer and author of the 'torture memo' (post-Abu Grahib) for the Attorney General's office just reeked of intelligence, character and principle.

[ Parent ]
Colorado Commentary (4.00 / 1)
See the following for more discussion:

- Square State

The discussions may or may not be all that stellar, but these blogs are the best for local color.

Look closely for "Aaron Silverstein" over at nt (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Look closely for "Aaron Silverstein" over at nt (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]

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