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Obama to name Ron Kirk to trade post today

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk will be named U.S. trade representative, a cabinet position in the Obama Administration, this afternoon.

The announcement by President-Elect Barack Obama will be made at a 1:15 p.m. Central time in Chicago.

Kirk, a partner in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins, has been a proponent of free trade but is expected to advance Obama’s concerns that trade pacts include environmental and labor protections.

Kirk had been slated to become transportation secretary, but when the trade job became available, he expressed a preference for the prestigious position, which comes with the title of ambassador.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, said she had hoped Kirk would become the transportation secretary but was pleased that the former mayor, an African American from Texas, would have such a high-profile posting.

“In terms of experience, he has been right in the hub of trade because of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. We’re the number 1 area in terms of trade in the nation,” she said.

“I think he’s the perfect person for it.”

In addition to Kirk, the president-elect is expected to name Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., the labor secretary and Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill, the transportation secretary.

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