The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



Hispanic Cabinet Members? Claro Que Si.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson speaks to Latino voters during an Obama campaign early-vote rally in Denver's Rude Park on Oct. 25, 2008. (Ivan Moreno/Associated Press)

By Philip Rucker
Citing the growing influence of Hispanic voters, Latino political advocates are pushing President-elect Barack Obama to appoint at least two and as many as four Hispanics to his administration's 20 cabinet-level positions.

Although Hispanic voters eluded Obama in his primary race against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), they mobilized on his behalf in overwhelming numbers during the general election, helping the Democratic nominee carry the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

"I'm not one to promote quotas," said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza. "But I think it would be difficult to see a cabinet at this historic moment in the country that wouldn't reflect diversity. So it's our expectation that we would see a diverse cabinet and sub-cabinet."

Topping the wish list of many Hispanic advocates is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), who is said to be interested in being named secretary of state. Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, endorsed Obama shortly after dropping out of the presidential race this spring.

"Richardson has put his name forward and we think that'd be an historic opportunity for the [Hispanic] community," said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latino American Citizens. "He'd be a tremendous force."

Federico Peña, secretary of transportation and energy under President Clinton, serves on Obama's transition committee and could take a job in the new administration.

Several other prominent Latinos are mentioned as potential nominees for labor secretary, including Linda Chavez-Thompson, a longtime AFL-CIO leader and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa(D); and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).

"Latinos are the nation's second largest population group, they turned out in record numbers and they're the fastest-growing electorate in the nation," said Rosalind Gold, policy and advocacy director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "Latinos should be making key policy decisions along a whole range of issues."

Latino advocates are promoting several other candidates for administration positions: Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Committee on Small Businesses, for administrator of the Small Business Administration; Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) for interior secretary; and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, a registered independent who endorsed Obama, for homeland security secretary.

Two Hispanics could be contenders for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development: Diaz and Saul Ramirez, Jr., a deputy HUD secretary under Clinton. And two may be considered for education secretary: Susan Castillo, Oregon's superintendent of public instruction, and Blandina "Bambi" Cárdenas, president of The University of Texas-Pan American.

Posted at 8:45 AM ET on Nov 11, 2008  | Category:  Cabinet
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: All Quiet on the White House Front | Next: Palin: Why We Lost

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I cannot believe that Blandina Cardenas is being mentioned for a cabinet position. She is currently under investigation by the University of Texas System for plagiarizing her dissertation. Last year after an audit, she paid back over $7,000 for improvements to her home by univeristy personnel.

Posted by: jjgar | November 13, 2008 4:42 PM

I cannot believe that Blandina Cardenas is being mentioned for a cabinet position. She is currently under investigation by the University of Texas System for plagiarizing her dissertation. Last year after an audit, she paid back over $7,000 for improvements to her home by univeristy personnel.

Posted by: jjgar | November 13, 2008 4:42 PM

I would have hoped that electing Obama would get us beyond this rather silly business of how many of each flavor of human we need in the cabinet. Would have hoped we could just select the best person for the job. Richardson is top shelf and his talents ought to be utilized for that reason, not because he is hispanic.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 12, 2008 3:07 PM

Latinos are 15% of the population but were only 9% of the electorate.

Given that the Republicans and their big business friends have pillaged latin america for the past hundred years it's no surprise that latinos vote democrat. The only surprise is that they aren't 15% of the electorate.

Where's the outrage that we can travel to China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, but not to Cuba?

Latinos have to get their act together. For the good of our country and moral, progressive interests.

Richardson should get something. State? He's definitely paid his dues, but is he really up to it?

I'd rather see Hillary as SecState and Bill as special envoy to the middle east. And let Caroline Kennedy take HRC's senate seat.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 11, 2008 5:44 PM

I initially considered Richardson in the primaries but ultimately decided that he doesn't have the intellectual heft for the position. I don't think he would best serve us as the secretary at State, either. His skill set seems to be negotiations but I doubt he'd want to return to the UN. EPA? Health and Welfare?

Posted by: j2hess | November 11, 2008 2:26 PM

finally proof that Fox news is definately gone too far.

Huckabee Getting Ready To Announce his Intent to Run in 2012?

Posted by: pastor123 | November 11, 2008 12:24 PM

I can think of another phrase for what People are calling Hispanic Communities:

Areas Formerly held by the USA!

I RESENT any Person becoming a Representative-For THEIR "Group".

It is not only Racist, it is in this case, Nationalistic!

What La Raza is doing, es no Bueno! :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 11, 2008 10:38 AM

heard from a very strong source that Judge Nelson Diaz is up for Secretary of HUD. He was HUD's General Counsel under President Clinton and knows the terrain. What's more, the Brookings Institute is publishing a book on Housing and it cites the Diaz Opinion as the cause for the success of the HOPE IV (hope 6) program. Judge Diaz's opinion allowed leveraging of public and private financing and partnerships with private sector by the Public Housing Authorities that was never done before. He'd be a great choice.

Posted by: koufax | November 11, 2008 10:14 AM

Isn't Patti Solis Doyle Hispanic also? I was surprised not to see her listed here. Not for or against her, just surprised by the omission.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | November 11, 2008 9:28 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company