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Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me'

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) threw her hat into the ring as a candidate for President-elect Joe Biden's Interior secretary in a new interview published Wednesday.

Moseley Braun, who was the Senate's first Black female member and an early supporter of Biden's White House bid, told The Washington Post that the position is "just a natural fit for me."

The former Illinois lawmaker, who also served as ambassador to New Zealand in the late 1990s following her single Senate term, would be an unusual choice to lead the Interior Department given her lack of experience on environmental issues.

Should she be considered, she would join a trio of New Mexico lawmakers who are widely reported to be the top contenders for the role: Rep. Deb Haaland (D) and Sens. Martin Heinrich (D) and Tom Udall (D). Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has also been floated as a possible nominee. 

The post has frequently gone to someone hailing from a Western state and Haaland would make history as the first indigenous person to serve in a Cabinet post if Biden taps her.

However, Moseley Braun has one advantage that could be key: She's close with a president-elect and he puts a premium on personal relationships. She served with Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee and has appeared on the campaign trail for him during his past failed presidential campaigns.

Moseley Braun told the Post that she has been in contact with Biden's team about possibly joining the incoming administration.

"All I've done is let them know I'd like to be of service," she said, noting that Interior secretary would be her first choice. "I'm not going to get into an elbow fight or knife fight with anybody over this stuff. I know there's intense competition."

The Biden transition did not immediately provide comment to The Hill when asked about Moseley Braun's remarks. 

Moseley Braun indicated that she views climate change as an existential threat the country must deal with, though she had little experience on the issue during her time in the Senate. 

"Climate change is the existential threat; that's the challenge for our generation," she said. "If we don't do something about that, we are failing the next generation." 

Moseley Braun's Senate term, which ended after a 1998 defeat to Republican Peter Fitzgerald, was marked by scandal after she made several trips to Nigeria while it was ruled by dictator Sani Abacha and hired her then-fiancé, Kgosie Matthews, to serve as her campaign manager.

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