President Joe Biden plans to nominate Ken Salazar, a former interior secretary and U.S. senator from Colorado, to serve as ambassador to Mexico, the White House said Tuesday.
Salazar, 66, a fifth-generation Coloradan whose family has long operated a ranch in the San Luis Valley, has been considered the likely nominee for the critical diplomatic post for months, and in late May Mexican diplomats confirmed his nomination was imminent.
Biden named Salazar among nine ambassador appointments the White House said he intends to submit to the Senate for confirmation.
Salazar ran the Department of the Interior for former President Barack Obama's first term and then returned to Colorado, where he joined international law firm WilmerHale as a partner and founded the firm's Denver office. He served six years as the state's attorney general, including in the early years of the new century, when he was the only Colorado Democrat elected to statewide office.
Colorado Democrats applauded the announcement, calling the pick "a terrific choice" with the potential to reset relations with the crucial U.S. neighbor and ally.
“President Biden has made a terrific choice in nominating Ken Salazar as the next Ambassador to Mexico," said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who was appointed to finish Salazar's Senate term in 2009 when Salazar was tapped for the Obama cabinet.
"Ken is a tremendous public servant with a strong record of bipartisanship in the United States Senate. 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."
Said U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper: “Ken Salazar is an exceptional leader who has served Colorado and our country at the highest levels. As ambassador to Mexico he will revitalize the relationship with a neighbor, ally, and one of our biggest trading partners."
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, in a tweet, noted that the Salazar family ranch was once part of Mexico.
"Ken Salazar never forgot where he came from — and that his family did not come to the US; the US came to his family, which has lived in the San Luis Valley for generations," Weiser said. "There is not a better person to serve as our Ambassador to Mexico."
Salazar, a native Spanish-speaker, co-chaired Biden's Latino Leadership Committee and served as an honorary co-chair of the Biden campaign's Colorado Latino Leadership Council. He served as host for a high-dollar fundraiser for Biden in early 2020, the only public campaign event Biden attended in Colorado last year.