Texas Oil Titan Top Pick for Secretary of State

State & Regional
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Exxon CEO and longtime Texan, Rex Tillerson, is the leading candidate to be picked for Secretary of State, according to President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

Tillerson was born in Wichita Falls and has been the head of the Texas-based oil company since 2006.

“He’s much more than a business executive,” Donald Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. “I mean, he’s a world-class player.  He’s in charge of, I guess the largest company in the world.  He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much doubled the size of its next nearest competitor.  It’s been a company that’s been unbelievably managed.”

Political analyst James Henson of the Texas Politics Project says Tillerson is perhaps Trump’s most controversial pick yet.

“I have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladamir Putin who is a thug and a murderer,” Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said during an interview over the weekend.

McCain isn’t the only person who has blasted the choice. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed their disapproval, pointing out that Tillerson’s close ties with Russia should disqualify him as Secretary of State.

Trump applauded Tillerson and defended the Texan, telling Fox News on Sunday that his international relationships are what put him on his cabinet radar in the first place.

“And to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players and he knows them well,” Trump said. “He does massive deals in Russia, he does massive deals for the company, not for himself, for the company.”

Back home in Texas, the mood is the exact opposite.

“It’s hard not to imagine that if you are in the Texas oil industry, which is obviously big, has national and international ties,” Henson said, “that you look at this pick and think ‘yeah he’s one of us’.”

Many folks in the oil industry are hopeful that a Texan like Tillerson in Trump’s cabinet could help re-boot the state’s struggling oil and gas sector.

“In general if you are working in the energy industry in Texas you have to look at this and feel like it’s probably a good thing for you,” Henson said. “Whether you can put your finger on a particular benefit, I think it’s more about having a voice in the White House and having your issues being pretty deeply integrated into the diplomacy of the country.”

Former GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is also among the names leading Trump’s short list. That decision, according to Trump’s transition team, is expected to be announced any day now.
 

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