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Chairman of Iowa Utilities Board May Be Tapped for FERC

John Norris, chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and a close friend of President-elect Obama, has a "pretty good shot" at becoming a FERC commissioner, if not the chairman "down the road," Washington sources said last Tuesday.

He is "very close to Obama...This guy could be an up-and-comer," said a natural gas source, adding that he has heard Norris mentioned several times during the past few days for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

He expects that an acting chair, possibly either existing Commissioners Suedeen Kelly or Jon Wellinghoff, to oversee the Commission until Obama's nominee -- possibly Norris -- is confirmed by the Senate. If tapped, Norris would succeed Chairman Joseph Kelliher, who is expected to leave FERC in January, the source said.

Norris has been a board member and chairman of the IUB since March 2005. He was not immediately available for comment.

Norris' wife and Obama's Iowa state director, Jackie, has been selected as incoming First Lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff.

The Norrises are considered one of Iowa's premier political couples, the Washington Post reported. John Norris was Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) state director during Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and had been chief of staff for Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. He also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002.

Jackie Norris was former Vice President Al Gore's Iowa political director in the 2000 presidential campaign and was finance director for Vilsack in 1998.

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