Salazar dodges queries about Colo. governor run
Updated 6:29 p.m. ET
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar dodged four questions about a possible campaign for Colorado governor during a previously scheduled conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“Bill Ritter has been a devoted servant of the public at great sacrifice to self and family," Salazar said when asked about his political future during the call. "I have enjoyed our work together in Colorado during my time as attorney general, as United States Senator and as secretary of the Interior. I wish him and his family all the best and I thank him for his service.”
Asked by another reporter if he is considering a run or has a preferred candidate, Salazar said: “I’m not going to comment on that. The governor has not yet made his formal announcement and there are other conversations that are going on in Colorado.”
Salazar ignored similar queries later in the call. He spoke during a call that announced new requirements for oil and gas companies before they can drill on federal lands.
Salazar would be the first Cabinet secretary to leave the Obama administration if he decides to run. He was nominated and confirmed on Inauguration Day.
"It's been a tough year," Salazar said in a year-end interview with the Associated Press last week.
"What President Obama asked me to do when he brought me there was to reform the department and fix problems," he said.
In his first year Salazar has instituted a department-wide ethics overhaul, settled a major class-action lawsuit regarding American Indian trust accounts and has faced criticism from environmentalists regarding his decision to remove grey wolves from the endangered species list. Wednesday's announcement has also earned him the ire of oil and gas companies that accuse him of discouraging development on public lands.
The White House would not object if Salazar chose to resign his cabinet post and run for Colorado governor, The Denver Post reported on Wednesday.
"I think Secretary Salazar is, again, a friend of the president, they came to the Senate at the same time," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said when asked at Wednesday's press briefing. "We think he's doing valuable work and I do not believe he's had a conversation with him recently about politics."
An administration official noted that Salazar recently moved his family to Washington for the first time since joining the U.S. Senate in 2005, a move likely to factor into any decision. His departure could also impact the Interior Department's top staff, since Salazar brought several aides with him. Thomas Strickland, a former U.S. attorney from Colorado and a two-time Senate candidate there, is a close friend of Salazar.
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