By Susan Falvella-Garraty
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Ireland will go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. Former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan will be introduced to the committee by the current senator from that western state, Craig Thomas, a Republican
"He’s in," said one staff member from the majority side of the committee. You can’t find anyone who doesn’t like Mike Sullivan," said a member of the minority side.
The time schedule for Sullivan’s nomination to take over from outgoing Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith was hastened in the few weeks since President Clinton returned from Ireland. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Jesse Helms, had stalled all ambassadorial nominations in the last few months because the Clinton administration had put forward an openly gay candidate to become ambassador to Luxembourg.
Now, it’s full speed ahead, and Sullivan could head to the American ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park in Dublin before Christmas.
Once the full committee approves the nomination, the full Senate will vote, and it is almost certain Sullivan will gain that approval.
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Sullivan was governor of Wyoming from 1987 to 1995. Encouraged by President Clinton, he ran for senator in 1994 but lost, as did so many Democrats running for national office that year. Subsequently, Sullivan returned to his corporate law practice.
Although Sullivan is a Democrat, he has some rather conservative personal views, including being anti-abortion, that made him a popular leader with his own party’s conservatives and Republicans, who make up the majority of Wyoming’s registered voters.