US president Donald Trump has named his appointment as US ambassador to Belgium, a post which has remained vacant since Trump’s inauguration at the beginning of 2017. The appointee is Chicago businessman Ronald Gidwitz, aged 73.
The previous ambassador, Denise Campbell Bauer, was appointed by president Barack Obama, to succeed Howard Gutman, perhaps the most popular and most media-friendly US ambassador of the modern era. Gutman made a point of visiting every Belgian municipality in person, as well as appearing on TV comedy shows.
Trump had originally floated the name of Jamie McCourt, a businesswoman whose career in diplomacy included the ownership of the LA Dodgers baseball team, but she was later sent to the embassy in Paris.
Gidwitz is one of the people who organised fund-raising for Trump in the state of Illinois. His nomination has to be approved by the US Senate, which for the time being is controlled by Trump’s own sometimes fractious Republican party. Since Belgium is home to three US ambassadors – to the EU, to NATO and to the country itself – the appointment is not seen as being particularly important. Hence the delay in even coming up with a candidate.