Mark Begich, Alaska's incoming senator who dethroned Ted Stevens this year, repeatedly promised to fight Washington Democrats who have long opposed opening his state's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
So when Barack Obama named Ken Salazar as his choice as the next interior secretary, Begich had to perform a careful balancing act.
On the one hand, Begich knows the Democratic senator from Colorado opposes drilling in ANWR.
But on the other hand, Begich doesn't want to rain on Salazar's parade and ruffle too many feathers within his own party before he is even sworn into office.
Moments after Salazar was announced as Obama's choice to run the Interior Department, Begich gave his qualified support for the nominee.
In a statement, Begich said he was "generally pleased" with the choice of Salazar, who, as a Westerner, has a "good understanding" of public lands issues. Begich called Salazar "well-versed" on energy issues, but "acknowledged" the senator's opposition to ANWR drilling and said there was time to "re-educate" policymakers on the issue as the energy crisis worsens.
Begich said he will make sure Salazar is well-versed in key Alaskan issues and plans to invite him to the state so he can see the "first-hand importance of ANWR and the many other non-renewable and renewable resources we have here."