The selection of Salazar has implications for Obama's pick for agriculture secretary, since Salazar's brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, had been among the leading candidates for that job. Now he "could be among those considered for the appointment" to succeed his brother in the Senate, report Anne Kornblut and Philip Rucker of the Post. (Read more) Christopher Osher and Karen Crummy of the Denver paper report likewise, and note, "Speaking to the media in Chicago on Monday, Obama said he would name the interior secretary later this week. (Read more)
Last week, John Salazar was named to the House Appropriations Committee, cooling speculation that he would become agriculture secretary, but he told reporters that he was "not taking his name out of consideration" for the position, "which he said he hadn’t sought," reported Jody Hope Strogoff of The Colorado Statesman, which bills itself as "Colorado's weekly nonpartisan political newspaper." (Read more) Now the agriculture job seems even less likely, because that would put two brothers from Colorado in the Cabinet. But perhaps they could agree on moving the U.S. Forest Service from Agriculture to Interior, a switch that has long been suggested. (Did you know USDA, created in 1862, was once part of DOI?)
Other leading names for agriculture secretary include Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia, former Rep. Charles Stenholm of Texas and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff, who is a dairy farmer. Others include Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, an Indiana farmer and former Senate Democratic aide; Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, who holds that state's sole House seat; and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson of Indiana, the Democratic nominee against Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels this year. Also mentioned is former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, a Republican. Obama said he would appoint at least one Republican to the Cabinet but hasn't yet and the seats are running short. He also hasn't appointed a Southerner, and failure to do so would be seen as a regional snub, so that factor may argue for Stenholm or Bishop, who is an African American.
The selection is "the most telling Cabinet pick that Barack Obama will make -- and from a long-term standpoint perhaps the most meaningful one," John Nichols writes in The Nation, adding that it could also be "the pick that will give us the most insight into where Obama will lead the country." Nichols says the mission of Bush adminsitration secretaries was to "promote the agenda of corporate agribusiness with regard to trade policy and the lowering of food safety standards. As such, there is a lot of repair work to be done. The question is whether Obama will nominate someone who is ready to do the work." Nichols offers suggestions. (Read more)