President-elect Donald Trump has named former Republican rival, Ben Carson, as secretary of housing and urban development, Trump’s team revealed in a statement on Monday.
“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Trump announced on his Facebook page.
“Ben has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. He shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.”
The position oversees low-income housing assistance, financing for homeownership, and fair-housing programs.
The two have “talked at length” about Trump’s urban renewal plan, as well as shared messages of how to stimulate economic growth in inner cities.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who ran as one of 17 Republican nominees in the primary elections, backed the president-elect after withdrawing his bid in March. He is the first African-American to hold a cabinet position under Trump’s team.
The former candidate believes he can “make a significant contribution” to urban areas, having grown up in a rough neighbourhood in Detroit. “We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid,” Carson expressed in a statement last month.
The pair, who were very close in the early polls, had a messy relationship throughout the race. Trump questioned Carson’s faith and compared him to a child molester, while Carson responded by criticizing Trump’s temperament. The two have since “buried the hatchet.”
Carson has previously stated that he was unsure if he’d fit into a high-profile position. His campaign manager, Armstrong Williams, told The Hill that Carson was uninterested in the role. “He feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.” He remarked that he now has had a “change of heart.”
Further cabinet positions, including Secretary of State, are yet to be announced.