WASHINGTON -- A White House ceremony is set for this morning to nominate Florida Gov. Bob Martinez to lead the nation's crusade against illegal drugs.
In choosing Mr. Martinez, President Bush rejected advice to pick "a Washington insider" as his next "drug czar." Instead, the president turned to a political ally with 12 years of government experience in a state that has grappled with the drug problem.
Some members of Congress and drug policy analysts say that because Mr. Martinez was Mr. Bush's first choice for the job, the governor should command cooperation among the nearly three dozen agencies involved in the government's war against drugs.
"The fact that Martinez has the strong support of the president will be an asset in his ability to bang heads, when necessary," said Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.
Mr. Martinez, defeated for re-election Nov. 6, flew to Washington yesterday to be on hand for the announcement, set for 10 a.m. He will succeed William J. Bennett, the nation's first director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who steps down today for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.
In meetings with Mr. Bush and White House officials two weeks ago, Mr. Martinez said he wanted to put more emphasis on drug treatment and prevention programs.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is not expected to hold confirmation hearings on his nomination until late January, at the earliest.