Mike Johanns New Agriculture Secretary
President Bush today nominated Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns [R.] to be his new agriculture secretary, turning to a son of Iowa dairy farmers and a man he called “an experienced public servant from America’s agricultural heartland” to replace the departing Ann M. Veneman.
In an announcement at the White House, Bush hailed Johanns as “a faithful friend of America’s farmers and ranchers.” The nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Johanns, 54, is serving in his second term as governor. The former Democrat previously served as mayor of Lincoln.
Bush also effusively praised Veneman, the first woman to serve as agriculture secretary, who announced her resignation from the Cabinet on Nov. 15. Other possible replacements for Veneman who had been mentioned included Allen Johnson, chief White House agricultural trade negotiator, and Chuck Connor, agricultural adviser to the president. Two Texans, former congressman Larry Combest (R) and Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D), also were mentioned as potential candidates.
Johanns has been considered a possible challenger to Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D), a freshman whose seat is up in 2006.
If I’ve ever heard of Johanns, I can’t recall.
Tabbing someone considered a viable Senate candidate for the role, though, strikes me as odd., though, since Ag Secretary is hardly a step up the latter from a governorship.
It’s unclear to me why it is we still need an agriculture department, but that’s a story for another day.