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Obama chooses ex-Miss. governor for Navy post

Mar. 27, 2009 - 01:03PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 27, 2009 - 01:03PM  |  
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JACKSON, Miss. President Barack Obama has nominated former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus to become secretary of the Navy.

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JACKSON, Miss. President Barack Obama has nominated former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus to become secretary of the Navy.

The White House made the announcement in a statement Friday.

Mabus, 60, is a Democrat and campaigned extensively for Obama last year. He had been previously talked about as a candidate for a place in Obama's cabinet as secretary of education.

Mabus served in the Navy from 1970-72 as a surface warfare officer on the Newport, R.I.-based cruiser Little Rock. Before then, he was in the Naval ROTC while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi.

He was governor of Mississippi from January 1988 to January 1992. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994-96 under President Bill Clinton.

Mabus' nomination would need to be approved by the U.S. Senate. The secretary is the civilian leader of the service and is responsible for a wide range of duties, from recruiting and mobilizing to overseeing the construction and repair of ships, equipment and facilities.

Mabus launched his state government career in 1980 as an assistant to Mississippi Gov. William Winter. Mabus was elected state auditor in 1983, and angered many county officials by demanding greater accountability in their handling of public money.

He used the corruption-fighting platform to emerge from a crowded Democratic primary field in the 1987 governor's race, then defeated Republican Jack Reed, a Tupelo businessman. Mabus sought a second term as governor in 1991, but lost to Republican businessman Kirk Fordice of Vicksburg.

Mabus has a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Harvard University.

From June 2006 to April 2007, Mabus was chairman and CEO of Foamex International Inc., and helped move the manufacturer of polyurethane foam products out of bankruptcy. He has served on the boards of several corporations and charities.

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