Ex-Dallas Mayor Kirk Will Be Obama's Trade Rep

Free-trade Democrat among few Southerners tabbed for cabinet
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2008 3:44 PM CST
Pro-US protesters hold pictures of President-elect Barack Obama, left, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during a rally to support the free trade agreement.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama will announce former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as his nominee for trade representative tomorrow, the Dallas Morning News reports. Kirk, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2002, is pro-trade and a staunch supporter of NAFTA. Kirk campaigned extensively for Obama, and is one of the few Southern faces in Obama’s proposed cabinet. “He’s an incredibly impressive guy,” Bill Clinton’s trade secretary said.

After leaving office in 2001, Kirk worked as a lawyer and a lobbyist. Though he has his supporters, particularly Obama, Kirk is relatively unknown nationally. “The jury’s still out,” a Texas labor leader said of the nominee, who will need to work closely with unions and business interests. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the confirmation panel, is skeptical of Kirk's experience. (Read more President Obama stories.)