Salazar pushes Coloradans for cabinet posts |

Salazar pushes Coloradans for cabinet posts

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press

DENVER ” Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar wants to see a home-state candidate named to President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

But even though Salazar’s own brother, Rep. John Salazar, has been talked about for a post, the senator said Wednesday he has no idea who Obama will pick. John Salazar has been mentioned as a possible agriculture secretary.

“He’s a salt-of-the-earth farmer,” the Democratic senator said in a conference call with reporters. “Someone who knows the reality of how farm policy affects those with dirt and calluses on their hands is important.”

Ken Salazar campaigned heavily for Obama this year, at one point crisscrossing Colorado on a bus stumping for the Illinois senator. Obama joined the Senate the same time Salazar did.

But Ken Salazar said he has no inside scoop on where Obama’s Cabinet search stands. Salazar heaped praise on another Coloradan mentioned as a possible Cabinet pick ” Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet. But asked whether he’d talked to Obama’s transition team about a possible Bennet appointment, Salazar said he hadn’t, though he went on to commend Bennet.

“I think Michael Bennet has done a stellar job in his work for the Denver Public School system,” Salazar said.

When pressed for details on where Obama’s search stands, Salazar demurred. He said he wasn’t sure exactly when the appointments would be announced or what Salazar’s or Bennet’s chances are.

Salazar, and all senators, will get their say when Obama’s appointments go to the chamber for confirmation next year. First, Salazar said, the main work of the Senate needs to be settling an aid package to troubled automakers.

As he has before, Salazar said government assistance to the automakers is unsavory, but necessary. He said he would support an aid plan as long as it forces manufacturers to repay taxpayers and make energy-efficient cars.

Salazar applauded plans to spend more to repair aging highways and power transmission lines.

The senator said he’d spend his holiday recess talking to Colorado officials about the state’s needs so he could push for their inclusion in Obama’s proposed $500 billion rescue plan.

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