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New Mexico’s Michael Connor confirmed as deputy Interior secretary

Michael Connor, who grew up in Las Cruces and worked for former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate today as second-in-command at the Department of Interior.

Connor, a water policy expert with a deep understanding of the land and water use issues affecting New Mexico, had been working as commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. He attended New Mexico State University before earning a law degree in Colorado.

As deputy secretary, Connor is the second highest ranking official at Interior, with statutory responsibility as the chief operating officer to help lead a Department of more than 70,000 employees and an annual budget of about $18 billion. Connor replaces David J. Hayes, who concluded a four-year, successful tenure at the Department in June 2013, accepting a position as Senior Fellow at the Hewlett Foundation and professor at Stanford Law School.

I’ll have more on Connor’s confirmation (hopefully including some comments directly from him) in tomorrow’s paper. Meanwhile, here’s a piece we ran in September following his confirmation hearing in the Senate and Natural Resources Committee. And here are comments from some of his biggest fans.

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, cheered the news.

“Mike is exactly the right person to help lead this Department – thoughtful, smart, organized and full of energy,” said Jewell. “His wealth of knowledge, experience and collaborative approach to complex challenges will be of great benefit to me and to this Department.  Mike is a true public servant, and this new role will tap all of his experiences for the benefit of the American people.”

“Mike Connor is a dedicated public servant with the experience and background needed to help meet our nation’s goals for energy independence and our environment,” Heinrich said. “He is passionate about finding solutions on a range of issues important to New Mexico, including land and water conservation and addressing climate change. Mike is a staunch ally of Indian Country and has a strong record of working effectively and collaboratively with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Mike will make New Mexico and our nation proud in his new role as our next Deputy Secretary of Interior and I very much look forward to working with him.”


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“Mike Connor has proven himself to be a smart, thoughtful and effective public servant,” Udall said. “As a native New Mexican with about two decades of experience in the public sector, he possesses a wealth of knowledge about matters that are important to New Mexico and that will be invaluable in his position as Deputy Secretary in the Interior Department. Mike has a deep understanding of issues ranging from land and water conservation, to the impacts of climate change, and the challenges facing Indian County. His work on water management and sustainable water use have particularly impressed me as he has responded to the ongoing drought. I am confident that Mike is a great partner for New Mexico and the West, and I look forward to working with him as he steps into this new role.”