Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he'd be interested in a Cabinet post in the Obama administration, but so far the Obama transition team hasn't contacted him about one, at least publicly.
The Associated Press reports this morning that Kitzhaber "has been mentioned as a possible secretary for either of two departments: Health and Human Services or Interior."
Kitzhaber, an avid fisherman and a former emergency room physician, has an intense interest in both the environment and health care reform. Putting together an Oregon salmon recovery plan and expanding the Oregon Health Plan were two of his biggest achievements in the Legislature and as governor, and he has continued to push for national health care reform through his Archimedes Project.
Kitzhaber told The AP he hasn't been contacted by Obama's transition team but would be open to taking either job if it was offered.
Columnist Carol McAlice Curry of the Salem Statesman-Journal writes that Kitz could do more for the country in the HHS position:
"We know you [Obama] have your own health-care plan, but Kitzhaber could help you make it better. During his gubernatorial tenure, Kitzhaber oversaw expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, which reduced the number of uninsured Oregon children from 21 percent to 8 percent. He also introduced the Oregon's Children's Plan to identify and assist at-risk children and families in the state, and focus resources on prevention and treatment instead of expensive and episodic after-the-crisis intervention."
The Eye is inclined to agree with Curry. Kitzhaber would be a good choice for either post, but his background as a doctor, a lawmaker, a governor and a crusader for health care would make him outstanding as head of HHS.