November 18, 2004


Sources: Dem approached for agriculture post: Nelson won't confirm discussion with Rove (Ed Henry and John King, 11/18/04, CNN)

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has been approached about becoming agriculture secretary in the Bush administration, according to two sources.

His appointment could add a second Democrat to Bush's Cabinet, as well as possibly increasing the GOP's Senate majority.

Republican Gov. Mike Johanns would get to choose Nelson's replacement, which could increase the GOP's advantage in the Senate to 56 seats.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced her resignation Monday.

President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, spoke to Nelson about the possibility in a telephone conversation last Friday, according to the two sources familiar with their conversation. Nelson has thus far declined to accept what the sources described as an offer or solicitation.

So, here's the thing, your seat is very vulnerable anyway and you've been offered an honorable out and up--meanwhile, do you really want to say "no" to Karl Rove?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2004 1:42 PM

This is a threefer for Bush as he 1) names a qualified person for the post, 2) is seen as reaching across the aisle, and 3) adds to the GOP senate majority.

The Dems will put enormous pressure on Nelson to stay but is a minority chair position for 2 yrs (before he gets defeated in '06) better than a cabinet post?

The article mentions he would be the 2nd Dem - I assume Mineta is the other one. I'd be surprised if Mineta isn't let go given he's considered one of the worst so far. Breaux for Energy Secretary

Posted by: AWW at November 18, 2004 1:51 PM

My observation, which I'm sure AWW and OJ are aware of, is that nominating Conservative Democrats will not make the slightest dent in leftist criticism of Bush via the MSM. They'll smile politely for a few days and then proceed to savage him like always. All this talk of reaching across the aisle is baloney.

Regardless it might help Republicans firm up support in Red States. In the case of Nelson it will help in the Senate significantly. Sorta like reaching across the aisle and slapping Democrats.

Now that I like.

Posted by: h-man at November 18, 2004 2:04 PM

I'm still expecting Charlie Stenholm to get the Ag job, but from a strategic standpoint it makes more sense to offer the job to Nelson first, since he's a Democrat who will still have a job in Congress after Jan. 1, while Stenholm won't.

Posted by: John at November 18, 2004 2:24 PM


It has nothing to do with the media and everything to do with people who still consider themselves Democrats even when they agree more with the GOP. Make it clear to them that they belong with us.

Posted by: oj at November 18, 2004 3:46 PM

This is a great move for everyone. There will be enormous pressure brought to bear on Nelson by the democrats, but I'm not sure what they can offer him other than minority chairmanships.

However, even if that is done, then Bush still wins because Ben Nelson is a fairly conservative guy for a democrat taking over minority chair slots that would be otherwise taken up by much more liberal and obstructionist senators.

Posted by: AML at November 18, 2004 4:04 PM

OJ: What I love about this is that it's the kind of bureaucratic un-job in which one can do no harm (versus being a senator). You could appoint Zarqawi as secretary of agriculture and the impact on America would be roughly the same as Nelson's.

Pleeese take the job... pleeese! Pleeese?

Posted by: Jay at November 18, 2004 4:57 PM

That's what President Ford thought about Earl Butz. (Butz was a leftover from Nixon) Had a mouth on him that wasn't PC even before PC.

You are correct. (however in the coming four years the media will say Bush and the Republicans are extreme partisans, not willing to reach out to Democrats..lada, lada, lada. Nice to have a Democrat to point to in order to at least change the subject.)

Posted by: h-man at November 18, 2004 6:28 PM

AgSec is "up" from the Senate ???

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 18, 2004 7:26 PM

Michael - it is if it is pretty clear you aren't going to get reelected in 2 yrs unless you switch parties.

Posted by: AWW at November 18, 2004 11:04 PM