DENVER – President Joe Biden has nominated Ken Salazar, the former U.S. senator from Colorado and Interior Secretary under President Obama, to be the next ambassador to Mexico.
Salazar, 66, is currently an attorney at the law firm WilmerHale, and helped found the firm’s Denver office.
Salazar served as Gov. Roy Romer’s chief counsel from 1986-90, then as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from 1990-94. He was the first Latino elected to statewide office when he was elected as attorney general in 1998. He was re-elected in 2002.
He beat Pete Coors to win one of Colorado’s U.S. Senate seats in 2004, and served from 2005 until 2009, when he was nominated by Obama and confirmed by the Senate as the next secretary of the Department of the Interior. Michael Bennet, one of Colorado’s current U.S. senators, was appointed to fill Salazar’s seat.
He and Sen. John Hickenlooper, a fellow Democrat, both said Tuesday they support Salazar’s nomination. The two will be among the senators who have to vote to confirm him as ambassador to Mexico.
Bennet called Salazar “a terrific choice” for the ambassadorship.
“Ken is a tremendous public servant with a strong record of bipartisanship in the United States Senate,” he said in a statement. “He has always led with integrity, and I have great confidence in his ability to represent the United States. We, in Colorado, are proud of him and grateful for his service once again.”
“Ken Salazar is an exceptional leader who has served Colorado and our country at the highest levels,” Hickenlooper said. “As ambassador to Mexico, he will revitalize the relationship with a neighbor, ally, and one of our biggest trading partners.”
Salazar, born in Alamosa, raised in the San Luis Valley, and a native Spanish speaker, got his undergraduate degree from Colorado College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He was also picked to lead Hillary Clinton’s transition team had she been elected president in 2016.
He will be tasked with helping direct U.S. policy toward Mexico, including the ongoing migration crisis at the border.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday called Salazar “a man of great integrity and capability” who would “represent our country with honor.”
“A strong relationship between the United States and Mexico is critical for jobs, trade, security, and fighting crime,” Polis said. “I commend President Biden for nominating Ken and urge the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm him in this role.”