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Becerra Turns Down Obama's Trade Rep Offer

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US Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA 13) has turned down an offer to serve as United States Trade Representative in President-elect Barack Obama's new cabinet. According to ABC News blog The Note, Becerra "has come to the realization that trade is not a priority for the incoming Obama administration."

The news conflicts with a press release issued just last night from the Becerra camp, where he is quoted as saying:

“Working for and with incoming President Barack Obama would be an opportunity of a lifetime. I will get to experience that thrill… by working by his side in the People’s House just down the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The clock is ticking; I’m ready to go!”
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Paralleling this statement came an interview he gave to LA's La Opinion, wherein he told the editorial board:

"Mi preocupación es qué tanto peso hubiera tenido esta posición y llegué a la conclusión de que no sería prioridad número uno, quizá ni siquiera dos o tres," Becerra told La Opinion.Translated to English, Becerra said, "My concern was how much weight this position [U.S. Trade Representative] would have and I came to the conclusion that it would not be priority No. 1, and perhaps, not even priority No. 2 or 3."

On Monday, the Downtown News published an editorial urging 14th District LA City Councilman Jose Huizar not to run for Becerra's Congressional seat, noting that it could be vacated if Becerra were to shift his attention to the Obama cabinet.

However, Becerra made it clear yesterday that he would "continue his service as the representative of California's 31st Congressional District and to devote his energies to the challenges ahead of him as the incoming Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and as a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means." He made no reference to having turned down the Trade Rep job, nor his interview with La Opinion.

Photo via Becerra's official website