Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the man chosen by President Barack Obama to lead the long-term cleanup and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, is a former governor of Mississippi who served alongside Bill Clinton and was once seen as the "face of the New South" -- a young, moderate Democrat making a mark in a deep Southern state.
At 39, Mabus was the youngest governor in the nation when elected in 1988 while Clinton was governor of Arkansas. He lost a bid for re-election but President Clinton appointed him ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 1994. A graduate of Ole Miss, Mabus also has a master's from Johns Hopkins and a law degree from Harvard -- impressive credentials. But he has his work cut out for him now. Details are sketchy, but Obama said in his speech Tuesday night that he was committed to a "long-term plan to restore the unique bounty and beauty of the region."
Hurricane Katrina, as Obama pointed out, was only the "latest blow" to the Louisiana coast, which has lost wetlands to environmental degradation at an alarming rate for decades. In announcing Mabus' appointment, the White House said he would "develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan -- designed by states, local communities, tribes , fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents."