Ken Salazars decision to step down as Interior secretary Wednesday comes as President Barack Obama faces criticism for a lack of diversity in his Cabinet.
The woman best positioned to replace Salazar could be former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, who just left office. She is known for supporting renewable energy and climate change policies. On Columbia River dam and salmon issues, shes stayed on the sidelines a common position for Washington Democrats.
One woman mentioned four years ago was Sally Jewell, CEO of REI. Trained as an engineer, she has deftly led a $1.8 billion-a-year company and been a leader in the outdoor industrys environmental efforts. Both women pass a major litmus test for being landlord of 500 million acres of federal land with 70,000 employees and a $20 billion budget: They come from the West. Idaho Govs. Cecil Andrus and Dirk Kempthorne have held the post.
The man most talked about for the job is John Berry, director of the White House Office of Personnel Management. Hes led the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and worked at Interior, Treasury, the National Zoo and the Smithsonian. He is gay, which addresses one diversity issue. But Berry, from Maryland, has no history in the West, which would make him a target among some westerners, Republican and Democrat.