Cast of Characters
Latino Leaders Looking Beyond Richardson
By Philip Rucker
As Hillary Rodham Clinton inches toward the secretary of state chair, many Latino advocates are asking: whither Bill Richardson?
The New Mexico governor, who endorsed President-elect Barack Obama after dropping out of the presidential primary campaign, has been the most likely Latino contender for a high-ranking post in the new administration. But now Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the Untied Nations and energy secretary, may lose out to Clinton -- and though the governor could land another Cabinet post, such as interior secretary, anxiety is high among Latino leaders that Obama has not yet named a Latino to a top White House or Cabinet position.
Senior transition officials -- including Obama's designated chief of staff Rahm Emanuel -- are said to be aware of such concerns and considering Latino candidates for several other Cabinet posts.
"The Obama transition team and the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, understand the role that the Latino vote played in this election, and I think we will see representation in the Obama Cabinet and at the White House," said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), a member of the House Democratic leadership, said he has been giving Obama's transition aides the names of Latino candidates "for every type of position you can think of in the federal government, from Cabinet on down."
"We can remember the days when people said we had no applications, or there's no one qualified," Becerra said. "Everyone understands that the days of excuses are over."
Becerra has been mentioned as a candidate for labor secretary. When asked if he wants a job in the administration, he said, "I'm not looking for one."
The Obama team is zeroing in on the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where at least four Latino candidates are said to be under consideration: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Adolfo Carrion Jr., a longtime figure in New York politics and borough president of the Bronx; Saul Ramirez Jr., a former deputy HUD secretary; and Judge Nelson A. Diaz, a former HUD general counsel.
As for Richardson, Murguia suggested he could serve as secretary of commerce or interior. "Perhaps there's an ambassador role to China," she added.
Posted at 7:08 PM ET on Nov 20, 2008
Cast of Characters
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