Bill Clinton had Ed Romero. Will George W. Bush have Ken Zangara? That's the question going around in the NM GOP as the White House begins divvying up the spoils of its election victory. No one has done more for Bush in NM than car dealer Zangara, who has raised and given thousands of dollars and who also has a good relationship with George and First Lady Laura. Naturally, this all gives rise to the possibility that Zangara, who headed Bush's successful NM campaign, could be in line for an ambassadorship. Zangara fits the profile; a high-dollar giver on good terms with the Prez. NM's Ed Romero raised huge dollars for Clinton and became ambassador to Spain.
THE SKELTON RATTLES
But making Ambassador requires U.S. Senate confirmation and that means a hearing at which Zangara would likely have to deal with this 1992 no contest plea to misdemeanor charges that he defrauded 80 employees of a previous car dealership out of more than $20,000 in wages and benefits. Zangara was put on a three-year probation and ordered to pay the affected workers $73,000 in restitution.
This skeleton in Zangara's closet did not stop the Prez from appointing him to his 2000 Interior Department transition team and inviting him to his Crawford ranch and this year's White House Xmas party. Also, Zangara is widely given credit for making valiant attempts to unify the strife-ridden NM GOP the past year.
Zangara, chair of the Bernalillo County R's, has been a loyal soldier. Now it's up to the Prez to decide whether a posting of international and local prestige is a fitting reward for Zangara who upon being sworn in could say goodbye to that black mark on an otherwise impressive resume.
And what about Bernalillo County sheriff and Bush county chair Darren White? The young and aggressive White,a former cabinet secretary under Gov. Johnson, previously applied with the Administration for a national posting. Don't be surprised if you see his name pop up on the list of possibles as the line forms for those vacant high-paying political postings in D.C.
CLINT CAN'T COUNT
Count me in when it comes to counting and, if necessary, recounting votes in cliffhanger elections. The AP's Deborah Baker reports that defeated state senate Dem contender Bob Frost is asking for a recount in his race against incumbent Clint Harden who beat Frost by a mere 36 votes in the sprawling east side district. But Baker quotes Harden has saying in response to Frost's request: "Everybody that has been involved with the election is tired. Bush Won. I won. Let's get it over."
Sorry, Clint. It's not over until its over and that means counting every vote. Or I am missing something that has been going over the past 200 and some odd years? Let the recount begin.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2004
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