Friday, December 12, 2008

Vinson & Elkins lobbyist is one of Obama's two finalists for Secretary of Transportation

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk a finalist to be transportation secretary


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Copyright 2008

WASHINGTON — Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk is a finalist to be secretary of transportation in the Obama administration, the Star-Telegram has learned.

Speaking from his Dallas law office Thursday evening, Kirk confirmed in an interview that he was under consideration and said he was filling out a final vetting form for President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team.

"Yes, I am being vetted. I’ve met with the transition team," said Kirk, the first African-American mayor of Dallas. "I’m honored. I got into this interesting relationship with Sen. Obama. I’m honored that my name would even be mentioned."

Kirk, a partner with Houston-based Vinson & Elkins, was an early supporter of Obama’s for president.

A Texas Democratic source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the Obama transition team said that Kirk was one of two finalists for the position.

Former Democratic Rep. Martin Frost said: "I have thought from the beginning that he would be a logical pick for the Cabinet. He has urban experience as mayor, and he’s a person of real substance."

"It would be nice to have somebody in the Cabinet from Texas," Frost added.

The other finalist, according to sources, is California's Steve Heminger, executive director of the San Francisco Bay area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Heminger is being promoted for the transportation post by the California congressional delegation, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pelosi named Heminger to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

So far, Obama’s Cabinet choices haven’t included a Texan.

State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, a Kirk friend, said: "If he is chosen, he’ll do a great job as transportation secretary. He’s been one of the greatest mayors of Dallas. Ron provided the vision for what will be one of the most comprehensive public works projects in the history of Dallas, the Trinity River project."

The network of parks, recreation areas, highways and bridges is being built in the Trinity River floodplain.

Kirk, who was Texas secretary of state under Gov. Ann Richards, served as Dallas mayor from 1995 to 2001, when he resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.

He lost to John Cornyn in 2002.

Kirk has practiced law and stayed active in politics.

He said that if a call came to resume public service, he would do so but that he had to take financial considerations into account.

"Opportunity has no sense of timing," he said. "After having been in public office for 10 years, I’ve finally got my footing financially."

Kirk said he has a child with an "Ivy League tuition" and another finishing high school.

But "if the president says, 'You’ve got the talent and skills for the job to do it,’ you do it," he said.

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