Hillary Clinton today announced Ken Salazar will lead her White House transition team, drawing cheers from some and jeers from others.
The job means Salazar will meet with current White House officials and try to make the transition as seamless as possible should Clinton win the presidency in November. Transition teams, reports Vox.com, “lay the groundwork for key decisions about executive branch appointments, outreach to Congress, and legislative priorities.”
Here are five takeaways from the big announcement.
1.) He’s a competent, credible establishment leader
Salazar is about as entrenched in the Colorado Democratic establishment as one can be— a former attorney general and U.S. Senator here whom President Barack Obama appointed as secretary of the Department of Interior.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper even floated Salazar’s name as a possible vice presidential pick for Clinton, and others have name-checked him as a potential Supreme Court justice nominee under a Democratic presidential administration. (Donald Trump has tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead his own transition.)
Salazar is also a longtime Clinton backer who held an event for her campaign at his home in Denver.
2.) The anti-frackers are not happy with this choice
“Secretary Clinton’s appointment of former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as head of her transition team is the wrong move for a candidate who needs to strengthen her progressive policies, not weaken them,” said Greenpeace USA Democracy Campaign Director Molly Dorozenski upon hearing the announcement.
Dorozenski said if Clinton plans to effectively tackle climate change, “the last thing her team needs is an industry insider like Ken Salazar.”
She said Salazar’s track record “illustrates time and again that he is on the side of big industry, and not of the people. His most recent opposition to the anti-fracking initiatives in his home state of Colorado directly undermines Clinton’s alleged support of local control over fracking. If Secretary Clinton wants to be the environmental leader that she claims to be in campaign speeches, she has to put the people before industry insiders.”
3.) Picking Salazar could undermine Clinton’s rhetoric against the ‘revolving door’
Writing for The International Business Times, Denver journalist David Sirota pointed to Salazar’s post-governmental career as “a partner at WilmerHale — a law and lobbying colossus that has been called one of the most influential forces in Washington” as a potential blind spot in Clinton’s campaign against the “revolving door” of public and private sector employment and influence peddling.
Sitora reports that Salazar is a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership global free trade agreement, and has said “there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone.”
4.) The move sets him up for a cabinet position in a potential Clinton administration
If Salazar wants a cabinet position under Clinton like he had under Obama, his work as transition team leader won’t hurt.
Mark K. Matthews writes in The Denver Post how “several members of Obama’s 2008 transition team ultimately found jobs within the administration” such as transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett, now a top aide to Obama, and Janet Napolitano and Michael Froman, who worked on the transition team and went on to become U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and U.S. Trade Representative respectively.
Salazar could also run for governor of Colorado in 2018 when Hickenlooper leaves office.
5.) His appointment is a sign Latinos will be ‘well-represented’ under Clinton
Latinos are one of the fastest-growing voting blocs in the United States.
Salazar is Hispanic, and his “presence at the top of the transition group offers Latinos a sign that they will be well-represented in the Clinton administration,” writes Matt Yglesias for Vox.
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept. of Interior, Creative Commons, Flickr