A coalition of 238 environmental, ethnic and other groups sent a letter to President Obama Monday recommending Rep. Raul Grijalva as the next interior secretary.
Additionally, a petition on WhiteHouse.gov urging Obama to appoint Grijalva to the post had 1,474 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Grijalva, who was considered a leading contender for the post four years ago, when Ken Salazar was appointed, could not be reached for comment.
He is now seen as one of several possible candidates to succeed Salazar, if Salazar steps down, which isn't definite but is widely expected.
Other possible candidates whose names have been dropped in the media include retiring Rep. Norm Dicks from Washington, former Sen. Byron Dorgan from North Dakota, former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal and outgoing Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, all Democrats.
The groups supporting Grijalva include conservation, Hispanic, recreation, animal welfare, religious, labor, youth, business and women's groups.
"Congressman Grijalva has been a tireless and effective leader on conservation and land management issues faced by the Department of the Interior," the groups wrote in their letter to the president. "Congressman Grijalva has unparalleled expertise with Native Americans and Indian tribes, a strong understanding of border issues, a well-established and pragmatic conservation ethic, and valuable experience with a wide variety of funding challenges.
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"We strongly believe Congressman Grijalva exemplifies the modern and forward-thinking vision of the Department of the Interior."
Among the local groups that signed in support of Grijalva are the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, the Arizona Native Plant Society, the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Don't Waste Arizona, the Mount Graham Coalition, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Sky Island Alliance, Sustainable Arizona and the Tucson Audubon Society.
Grijalva is a leading Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources and is the ranking member in the subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands.
He's on the subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs and the subcommittee on water and power.
Grijalva wrote the National Landscape Conservation System Act, which protected 27 million acres of land, including the Agua Fria and Sonoran Desert National Monuments in Southern Arizona. And he's the co-chair of the Congressional National Landscape Conservation System Caucus.
Other caucus memberships include the Animal Protection Caucus, Native American Caucus, National Parks Caucus, National Wildlife Refuge Caucus and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus.
Did you know
Two former interior secretaries were from Arizona. Stewart Udall served from January 1961 to January 1969, and Bruce Babbitt served from January 1993 to January 2001.
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