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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  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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If Obama wants to bring lasting change, he must recognize that the Democratic Party's success over the next 20 years will hinge on whether Latinos are effectively included or simply taken for granted. By nominating Clinton over Richardson, Obama will miss an important opportunity to solidify Latino preferences for the Democratic Party. I can't think of any better opportunity to strengthen this voter base, and it will be squandered.

Posted by: wcwilson2 | November 21, 2008 3:46 PM

Hillary will get State and Bill will get a special envoy role.

Peace in the middle east is too strategically important. Until there's an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Al Qaeda is going to continue having recruiting success by portraying Israelis and Americans as war dogs. Once that agreement is done, they'll be marginalized.

But it won't be easy because the political players - and their parties - are hardcore irrational actors.

It'll take every but of the Clintons' intelligence, power, tenacity, charm and guile to get a deal done.

Richardson is a good guy; but the Clintons are better suited for that big league game, right now.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 21, 2008 11:57 AM

What latinos have to be excited about is the fact that Republicans and their big business cohorts are no longer running the show in DC.

No one with any sense of intelligence or decency can understand why we can trade with and travel to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea ***but not Cuba***.

The fact that big business and their Republican political frontmen have pillaged latin america for over 100 years will become increasingly understood among the latino community.

Republicans have no chance - ZERO - of appealing to the latino community, a community that believes, as REAL and good catholics, in community, in education, in health care, and in peace.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 21, 2008 11:41 AM

Bill Richardson would be the Perfect Secretary of State.

Janet Murguia, would be the Perfect Expelled Citizen!

Folks, La-Raza is BAD NEWS!

They are the fore-front of the "Pink Tide"! They go beyond Racism. They are Nationalistic. As in, they want CONTROL-for HISPANICS, of Our NATION!

They are taking the "Battle of the Crib", to a newly elevated assault on America!

Come on down to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Laredo, or El Paso, and behold Mexican ARROGANCE!

IF, Blacks are going to blindly vote for Blacks, and Hispanics are going to blindly vote for Hispanics-and worse-Actively PROMOTE such action;

Then Non-Hispanics and Blacks, need to realize that we NEED to do the same!

The Illegal Invaders, need to REMOVED, and their Dual Nationality Children born to Mothers Illegally, or Temporarily(Bridge walkers) here, stripped of a wrongly given US Citizenship!

And Nancy Pelosi should be removed for blocking HR-1940-The Birthright Citizenship Act(That would STOP the Abuse)!

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 21, 2008 10:23 AM

While we appreciate the role of Gov. Richardson, 18 million Democrats voted for Hillary in the primaries. If no other post than State is acceptable to the Gov, perhaps several lower level positions to other Richardson supports may be more acceptable.

Posted by: bsumpter3 | November 21, 2008 4:25 AM

Gov. Richardson, as a multi Noble Peace Prize nominee, will not accept any position lower than State, that's my gutt feeling.

Posted by: lockmallup | November 21, 2008 4:01 AM

previous question:
What does Bill Richardson have to do with the needs of Hispanics?

Plenty. To start with, the 8 states that Richardson campaigned for Obama by talking with Hispanics: Obama won all of them.

16 years in Congress, 2 as Sec. of Energy, 2 as UN Ambassador, 6 as Governor of New Mexico. 26 years of service, 22 in direct service to Hispanics and Hispanic issues.

Isn't this clear?

Posted by: stephen6 | November 20, 2008 9:05 PM

Isn't the more important question whether the Obama administration will implement policies that improve the lives of Hispanics, and to hear out Hispanics' concerns? Is this how the National Council of La Raza wastes its time? What does Bill Richardson have to do with the needs of Hispanics? Organizations like this are what render special interest groups irrelevant.

Posted by: johnc_80 | November 20, 2008 8:16 PM

I think it is a big mistake to give Hillary the State job. Richardson would do a much better job. She is too much of a hawk.

I also think that Dr. Dean must be given the FDA Commissioner job, if he would take it, and if it is clear to him that this will be a significant area of reform. To wit: President Obama should rescind by Presidential Order FDA approval for the neurotoxic and artificial sweetener, aspartame, whose approval was forced through the FDA in 1981 by then CEO of G.D. Searle, patent holder for aspartame. Nixon rescinded by P.O. the FDA approval for cyclamates as carcinogenic, and there is a fifty times bigger mountain of evidence about aspartame's deadly effects, its neurotoxicity and its carcinogenicity, partially due to its being metabolized in all humans as methanol, then formaldehyde and a proven brain tumor agent, diketopiperazine.

This is all very well known to the FDA, especially to the chemists and to the division that takes the product complaints, of course, yet it is still found in 9000 foods and medications, including CHILDREN'S VITAMINS and medicine for Parkinson's Disease. It is a nightmare in terms of regulatory failures at FDA. Google to learn more.

There will be Resolutions in the Hawaii and the New Mexico Legislatures in early 2009 asking the new FDA Commissioner to rescind aspartame's approval, and there is no one whom I personally trust more to be the best commissioner possible is HOWARD DEAN III, M.D.

Respectfully,

Stephen Fox
Contributing Editor, New Mexico Sun News
(incidentally, our paper had OBAMA WINS! for cover headline 12 days before the election, the first in the USA to do this!)

Posted by: stephen6 | November 20, 2008 8:06 PM

I'm surprised at Richardson's lack of support for a Cabinet position, as I was surprised at his lack of support in the primary. He arguably had the most experience of any of the Democrats in the race - former UN ambassador, all-around diplomat to bad guys everywhere, former Secretary of Energy, governor of a border state. He had more experience in one line of his resume than either Obama or Clinton had on half a page . . . but then again, as McCain learned, experience isn't everything.

Richardson's resume covers the most important issues facing our country today: diplomacy and our ability to build relationships overseas, energy, and immigration. Yet he gets overlooked? I'm surprised and saddened. He might not fit in at the cool kids' table - where Hillary and Barack vie for attention - but he's exactly what our country needs right now at State or in some other key leadership position.

Posted by: chrisduckworth | November 20, 2008 7:38 PM

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