Biden announces US ambassador pick

United States (US) President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Calvin Smyre as US ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

In September, Biden announced his intent to nominate Smyre as US ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The nomination was sent to the US Senate.

A search of the White House’s official website indicated that it did not announce the withdrawal of that nomination from the Senate.

Smyre is a lifelong legislator who has served in the Georgia State Assembly for nearly 50 years. He was chairman of the Democratic Caucus within the assembly for over a decade and still serves as the caucus’ chairman emeritus.

He is the dean of the Georgia House of Representatives and serves on the Appropriations, Rules, and Higher Education Committees. Smyre is president emeritus of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and a member of the National Conference of State Legislators.

Smyre served as the executive vice president of corporate affairs for Synovus Financial Corporation for nearly 40 years.

He also served on the board of trustees of the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, the Morehouse School of Medicine, the Jack D. Hughston Foundation and the Fort Valley State University Foundation as its chair.

Smyre earned a Bachelor of Science from Fort Valley State University.

He is the first person to be nominated as ambassador to The Bahamas under the Biden administration.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said yesterday that The Bahamas welcomed the announcement.

Nicole Avant was the last US ambassador to The Bahamas. She served from 2009 until 2011.

Cassandra Butts was nominated as ambassador under the Obama administration in 2014 but she died without being confirmed.

Doug “Papa” Manchester was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017 but withdrew his nomination in 2019, thus leading Trump to nominate William Douglass the following year.

However, Douglass’ nomination was withdrawn after Trump lost the 2020 US election.

After Biden took office last year, two US academics, who served as assistants to US President Bill Clinton during his tenure in the White House, said that the deployment of a US ambassador to The Bahamas would be “a useful step in meeting the challenge the Chinese pose in The Bahamas and globally”.

They said the lack of an ambassador sends “the wrong signal”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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