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Brad Sherman pushes Calif. politician for India ambassador

For Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), the path to reelection might go through New Delhi. He’s pushing the Obama administration to nominate former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who recently endorsed him, as the next ambassador to India. "We write to support our friend, former Lieutenant Governor of California, Cruz Bustamante for the position of United ...

For Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), the path to reelection might go through New Delhi. He's pushing the Obama administration to nominate former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who recently endorsed him, as the next ambassador to India.

"We write to support our friend, former Lieutenant Governor of California, Cruz Bustamante for the position of United States Ambassador to India," Sherman wrote in a letter he is planning to send to President Barack Obama, obtained by The Cable. "Mr. Bustamante has proven himself to be a capable, hard-working and dedicated civil servant. Given his long career of public service and his extensive work on issues of international trade and economic development, we are confident that Mr. Bustamante's appointment would bring strong leadership to the relationship between the United States and India."

For Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), the path to reelection might go through New Delhi. He’s pushing the Obama administration to nominate former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who recently endorsed him, as the next ambassador to India.

"We write to support our friend, former Lieutenant Governor of California, Cruz Bustamante for the position of United States Ambassador to India," Sherman wrote in a letter he is planning to send to President Barack Obama, obtained by The Cable. "Mr. Bustamante has proven himself to be a capable, hard-working and dedicated civil servant. Given his long career of public service and his extensive work on issues of international trade and economic development, we are confident that Mr. Bustamante’s appointment would bring strong leadership to the relationship between the United States and India."

The letter, which Sherman circulated this week to all California Democratic offices in search of co-signers, argued that Bustamante "has a wealth of experience and an extensive knowledge of Indian culture, politics and business." As chairman of the California Economic Development Commission, Bustamante helped open new international trade offices, including six in Asia (although none in India).

Other than that, his ties to India or foreign policy in general appear to be thin and he doesn’t have international stature comparable to the last ambassador to New Delhi, former Rep. Tim Roemer.

Bustamante endorsed Sherman for reelection earlier this month. Sherman is currently in need of high-powered California endorsements because he is running against another well-liked incumbent Democrat — House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Howard Berman (D-CA).

Berman and Sherman were both drawn into a newly created district in the Los Angeles area and will have to run against each other in what’s shaping up to be a highly competitive and costly race. Berman has already announced that California Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Henry Waxman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will all serve as honorary co-chairs for his campaign.

So far, Sherman’s got the endorsements of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California State Controller John Chiang, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and others. Sherman also has poll numbers showing him in the lead, but it’s still early in the race. Berman and Sherman might also have to run against each other twice, because the top two contenders coming out of the "jungle primary" next June will face off again in the November 2012 general election.

Sherman’s chief of staff Don MacDonald told The Cable today that there’s no linkage between Bustamante’s endorsement and Sherman’s letter recommending him for the India post.

"As to any suggestion that Sherman is doing this in return for some political benefit, Sherman actually urged that Bustamante seek this position well before redistricting, and a likely very tough race, came into focus. The endorsement came months after Sherman first mentioned the ambassadorship to him, well after Sherman had decided to undertake these efforts," MacDonald said.

Cruz placed second to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003 election to recall Gov. Gray Davis and then lost an election in 2006 to become California Insurance Commissioner.

"When voters of California elected him lieutenant governor, they knew that on any day that person could become arguably the second or third most important government official in America," MacDonald continued. "So Cruz Bustamante has tens of millions of Californians who believe in his ability as well. With all due respect to the foreign policy wonks of the world, Governor of California is a much tougher job than ambassador."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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