Governor Outta Here!
If you followed the presidential election closely, you probably got the sense that serving as the chief executive of one of our fifty states is political gold. The position of governor is typically depicted in campaigns as being near the pinnacle of the elective office hierarchy, just a step below the ever elusive presidency. Yet, every four years it seems like some governors just can’t wait to leave their states behind, in order to serve the newly elected administration in some capacity. This election cycle all bets were on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as the governor most likely to jump ship. From the moment he entered the presidential race in January of 2007, Richardson seemed to be chomping at the bit to get back to Washington. Now he has finally gotten his return ticket punched by Barack Obama, as his newly nominated secretary of commerce.
Most of the speculation during the presidential primaries centered on Richardson angling for the vice presidency or secretary of state, but since neither of those was offered by Obama, he seems willing to settle for a post that is not usually viewed as a first tier cabinet appointment. Still, it accomplishes the goal of returning him to Washington, where Richardson has spent most of the past 25 years, first as a U.S. Congressman, and then as U.N. Ambassador and Energy Secretary in the Clinton Administration. And, Richardson will no doubt find a way to use his extensive experience in matters of trade and diplomacy, and his big personality, to elbow his way into Obama’s circle of key advisers.
I got to experience all of this for myself early in the presidential primary cycle, when I met Richardson in the spring of 2007. He spent most of the event regaling the crowd with stories of his personal encounters with various eccentric world leaders, and I even got to experience firsthand that most revered of political gestures from him, the combination handshake and backslap. After watching Richardson work the room that day, I have no doubt he will make an excellent booster for America’s goods and services. But, like Obama, I was disappointed to see he has given up the High Plains Drifter look by shaving his beard, the surest sign that Richardson has already left the Land of Enchantment behind for the Land of Bureaucracy.
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