Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken

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President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team today said the incoming administration will nominate Antony Blinken as Secretary of State. The Blinken name is a familiar one in Idaho politics, because Antony Blinken’s uncle, Alan Blinken, is a Ketchum resident who unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. Larry Craig in 2002.

Alan Blinken, a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, and his wife, Melinda, have remained active in Idaho Democratic politics since then, including hosting political fundraisers at their home north of Ketchum for local, state and national Democratic candidates. Most recently, they held a fundraiser for Biden’s presidential campaign in July of 2019, a day before a similar event in Boise.

Alan Blinken’s older brother, Donald Blinken, also was a diplomat, serving as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1994 to 1997. Antony Blinken is Donald Blinken’s son. He served as deputy secretary of state under the Obama Administration, from 2015 to 2017, and was among those in the situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden.

Blinken has a long record of working with Biden, including serving as his chief foreign policy adviser in the Senate in 2002; as staff director on the Foreign Relations Committee; on Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign; and as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser.

Here’s what Antony Blinken said on Twitter today: “The messages from friends and colleagues that I’ve received over the past 15 hours have been humbling. Honored to announce, officially, that I have been nominated to serve as Secretary of State. If confirmed, this is a mission I will take on with my full heart.”

There’s also another name with Idaho ties on Biden’s list of key nominees or appointees released today: John Kerry, the former U.S. Secretary of State, five-term U.S. senator and Democratic nominee for president in 2004. Biden has named Kerry his special presidential envoy for climate. Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have a Sun Valley home and have been part-time residents there for decades.

"John Kerry will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the NSC (National Security Council)," the Biden transition team said in a news release. "This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change."

Kerry’s appointment, unlike Blinken’s nomination, won’t require Senate confirmation.

The Biden-Harris transition team today announced picks for six top foreign policy and national security posts, including Blinken and Kerry; it’ll formally announce the six at a press event on Tuesday. The other four picks are Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Avril Haines, director of national intelligence; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Jake Sullivan, national security adviser.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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