Updated Jul 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden picks Tom Udall for U.S. ambassador to New Zealand

Sen. Tom Udall

Sen. Tom Udall in 2020. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden will nominate former New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall as his ambassador to New Zealand, tapping another onetime senator to serve in his state department.

Why it matters: Biden is drawing heavily on politicians, longtime aides and former diplomats as he fills out his ambassadorial ranks, giving short shrift to pure political donors.

  • He is also expected to nominate Jane Hartley, the former ambassador to France, as his pick for the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom, according to people familiar with the matter.

What he's saying: "Having dedicated my life to public service and having served as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee focusing on policies that promote democracy, international development, and conservation, I am honored to be nominated by President Biden to this next role serving our great country," Udall said in a statement.

  • "Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa is an important diplomatic post for the United States, for New Zealand, Samoa, and for the Indo-Pacific, and this position—working with one of our closest partners and allies—is integral as we work closely with New Zealand to confront the challenges facing our nations—including COVID-19, climate, and China."

The big picture: Biden still plans to nominate political ambassadors for roughly 30% of his openings and fill the remaining slots with career foreign services officers.

  • On Friday he announced three more names from the diplomatic corps: Caryn McClelland, for Brunei Darussalam, Michael Murphy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Howard Van Vranken for Botswana.

Go deeper: If confirmed by the Senate, Udall will join former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who was picked for Turkey, and former Sen. Ken Salazar, who has been nominated for Mexico.

Editor's note: This post was updated with Friday's nominations.

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