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By Dale Wetzel, Associated Press Writer, Published January 30 2010

Pomeroy: I’d reject lobbying job

BISMARCK – North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who has been mentioned as a potential president of a Washington organization that represents life insurance companies, said Friday he would not accept the position.

“If they offered me the job, I would decline. I am running for re-election. I have the job I want,” the incumbent Democrat told The Associated Press in an interview.

Pomeroy, who is seeking his 10th House term, was asked three times during an earlier news conference whether he would refuse the job of president of the American Council of Life Insurers if it were offered to him.

He did not answer directly, but Pomeroy was unequivocal in a subsequent telephone interview. “If they offered me the job, I’d say no,” he said.

Pomeroy said he had not intended to duck the question at the news conference. “I was trying to answer ... in the affirmative,” Pomeroy said. “I just was stubborn enough to try to put it in my words.”

The Washington, D.C.-based American Council of Life Insurers is looking for a successor to its current president, Frank Keating, a former Republican governor of Oklahoma.

A spokesman for the organization said Pomeroy, who is a former North Dakota insurance commissioner, would be a natural candidate because of his understanding of the industry. Pomeroy was considered for the position before Keating was hired in 2003.

At the news conference, Pomeroy said he had not discussed the position with the ACLI or been contacted by a recruiter. He said it would be “pretentious” for him to say he would decline a job that he had not been offered.

“I’m running for re-election for U.S. House of Representatives. I obviously could not do that and take the head of the ACLI job. I want to represent North Dakota in Congress,” he said.

Pomeroy said he often heard rumors that he was interested in other employment. He was mentioned as a possible chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota last year before the health insurer hired Paul von Ebers, a longtime industry executive.

“No one ever called me about that (Blue Cross) job, and I wasn’t interested in it if they had,” Pomeroy said. “Believe it or not, I like doing what I’m doing.”