Bruce Heyman, a Chicago-based Goldman Sachs executive and one of Barack Obama's top fundraisers, is in final talks to become the next U.S. ambassador to Canada, according to sources.
Mr. Heyman would be the second ambassador to Canada to hail from Chicago, replacing David Jacobson.
A person familiar with the selection process confirmed Mr. Heyman was "in the mix," adding that he has long been an ardent supporter of the U.S. President. However, the source added that the process is not over and no final decision has been made.
Mr. Heyman and his wife, Vicki, have been a political power couple for three decades. They were among Mr. Obama's top fundraisers, collecting and contributing $1.7-million to the President's bid for a second term. Mrs. Heyman helped run the President's 2012 re-election campaign, and the couple were major contributors to the campaign.
They attended Mr. Obama's inauguration and were among an exclusive group of powerful and politically well-connected guests at a glittering White House State dinner hosted by Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel two years ago.
Mr. Heyman was also one of the few executives at Goldman's to support Mr. Obama openly, with many others abandoning the campaign over what they construed as attacks on business. "I am sensitive to the emotions" of Wall Street, Mr. Heyman told the Wall Street Journal before Mr. Obama was re-elected in November, 2012. "But if you look at the facts, Mr. Obama is pro-business."
The new ambassador will arrive at a pivotal moment in Canada-U.S. relations.
Mr. Obama must decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries. Federal cabinet ministers and provincial premiers have paid repeated visits to Washington to stress how crucial the new pipeline is to both the Canadian economy and U.S. energy security.
The Harper government has made it clear that rejecting the pipeline would send Canada-U.S. relations into a deep freeze that would last for as long as Mr. Obama is President or Mr. Harper is Prime Minister.
A Keystone decision is expected in September. The next U.S. ambassador to Canada will likely head north about the same time.
If Mr. Heyman gets the job, it won't be his first involvement with Canada. As a managing director with Goldman Sachs in Chicago, he ran the private wealth management group and covered a big chunk of the United States and Canada.
The Heymans met as graduate business students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville in the late 1970s. "Our first date was Lamar Alexander's governor's ball," Mr. Heyman recalled for his university's alumni magazine, referring to the former Republican governor of Tennessee.
The Heymans have three adult children; a son David and two daughters, Liza and Caroline.
Editor's note: The headline previously said that Bruce Heyman is a former Goldman Sachs executive, which is incorrect. He is still with the investment banking firm.