Former Dallas mayor, a Vinson & Elkins deregulation lobbyist, is being considered for Obama's Secretary of Transportation
By GROMER JEFFERS JR.
The Dallas Morning News
Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk is being vetted by President-elect Barack Obama's transition team for a position within the administration, possibly secretary of transportation, education, housing and urban development or some other Cabinet-level post.
"It's my understanding that he's being considered for either the Department of Transportation or HUD," Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, said Thursday night as a group gathered Thursday night to celebrate her birthday. "I would rather see him get the transportation appointment."
Mr. Kirk confirmed Thursday that he was being vetted for a job with the Obama administration but declined to discuss specifics.
He has met several times with Mr. Obama's transition team, including Tuesday and last weekend.
"It's true that I'm being vetted," Mr. Kirk said, adding that it would be an honor to work with Mr. Obama, though he was happy living in Dallas.
Some Texas Democrats have said they received calls from the FBI about Mr. Kirk.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Kirk have grown close through the years, sharing the common bond of running as black candidates for the overwhelmingly white U.S. Senate.
After becoming the first black mayor of Dallas in 1995, Mr. Kirk lost a Senate bid in 2002 to Republican John Cornyn. During an interview with The Dallas Morning News in the summer of 2004, Mr. Obama said he monitored Mr. Kirk's contest before his successful Senate bid two years later in Illinois. And Mr. Obama's communications director for his Senate race, soon-to-be White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, was a spokesman for Mr. Kirk's Senate bid.
For the presidential race, Mr. Kirk was Mr. Obama's point man in Texas and did surrogate work for the campaign in several states, including North Carolina.
Mr. Obama stunned Republican John McCain by winning North Carolina, the first Democratic victory there since 1976.
Fellow Democrats say that as a former Texas secretary of state and big-city mayor, Mr. Kirk would bring expertise to any of those positions and other roles that may be carved for him by Mr. Obama.
"That would be good news," said Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, an early supporter of Mr. Obama. "Ron Kirk would do a good job in his administration."
Mr. Kirk said that he never sought anything for his support of Mr. Obama.
He's a partner at Vinson & Elkins law firm, where he's a lobbyist who has worked for deregulation of electricity markets.
"I'm happy where I am," Mr. Kirk said. "But if the president says he needs me, that's something I would have to consider."
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