The embassy released a video on Friday of recently-confirmed Samuel Heins and his wife Stacey Mills saying they were “delighted to have the chance to live in Norway”.
“We’re eager to hear from Norwegians young and old about how to shape our future and make a difference in the world,” Heins said.
When Heins arrives in Norway next week it will put an end to a nearly 900-day stretch in which no one filled the US ambassador’s post in Oslo.
Heins’s name was first attached to post back in April 2015 and was formally nominated as the ambassador to Norway by President Barack Obama the following month.
But his confirmation was held up by Senate Republicans, including presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, for months as the GOP wrangled with the Obama administration on foreign policy. He was finally confirmed on February 12th.
The Minnesota lawyer was a major contributor and so-called ‘bundler’ to Obama’s two successful campaigns. Heins is also an active human rights advocate and founded both the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Center for Victims of Torture.
His appointment came after Obama’s disastrous attempt to name businessman George Tsunis to the position. Tsunis drew virulent criticism for his perceived incompetence after a bungling performance in his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2014, during which he called Norway's prime minister a “president” and dismissed government coalition partners the Progress Party as “fringe elements”.
Heins’s home state has strong ties to Norway with the largest population of Norwegians outside of the country.
The state’s paper of record, the Star Tribune, praised Heins as “a good choice” for the position and “a huge improvement” over Tsunis.
“Heins’ roles in establishing the Advocates for Human Rights and the Center for Victims of Torture, which both have contributed so much on a global basis, give him a unique international perspective and make him a solidly qualified candidate,” the paper wrote in an editorial.