Friday, December 19, 2008

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to be Named to Obama Cabinet

(Todd Gillman — The Dallas Morning News)

President-elect Barack Obama will name former mayor Ron Kirk the post of U.S. trade representative on Friday, thrusting the pro-trade former Dallas mayor into a sensitive balancing act between unions and business interests.

Mr. Kirk has been calling friends today to tell them about his selection to the Obama Cabinet. He told a reporter offering congratulations to “pack your bags.” A top Democratic official said the announcement will come Friday in Chicago.

“He’s an incredibly impressive guy with a wonderful background, particularly for this job,” said Mickey Kantor, who held the post under President Bill Clinton. “You’ve got to understand both substance and politics to be successful, and he certainly understands trade being from Texas.”

After eight years with Texans filling Cabinet seats and top White House posts, the Kirk appointment ends a near-drought as Mr. Obama and his Illinois-heavy team prepares to take over. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, was president of Texas A&M but isn’t from Texas.

John Murphy, vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lauded Mr. Kirk’s record of support for free trade and its benefits in Texas, though he isn’t known nationally.

“Trade has been one of the only bright spots for the U.S. economy, and the Obama team is going to need every tool in its tool box,” he said. Read more here.