Wednesday, April 27, 2005

D.C. Day On The Blog: NM's Place On The Capitol Power List, And: Pearce's New Chief, Plus: Some Potomac Sniping At Big Bill 

Sen. Domenici
We are long removed from the days when most of NM's congressional delegation ranked way up high on the seniority ladder. But our little Enchanted Land continues to more than hold its own in the Senate, while it will take years for us to regain high rankings in the House. In the Senate, if Pete Domenici, who turns 73 in May, hangs on for another term, and he will if he can breathe regularly, NM could find itself close to having the most senior of all the 100 senators. Pete now ranks #5 on the list with Robert Byrd of West Virginia #1. Domenici is the longest serving U.S. senator in state history taking his seat in 73.' And Dem Jeff Bingaman is not all that far behind, coming in at #18 out of 100. In fact, our state's senators rank highest in seniority than any other.

Over in the House, our three representatives are all relatively new and its reflected in the seniority rankings. Sophomore GOP Rep. Steve Pearce brings up the rear, ranked #381 out of the 435 House members. Dem Tom Udall is #292 and ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson comes in at #265. Top committee assignments continue to be handed out on the basis of seniority so it still matters.


Congressman Pearce went with a Washington insider and native Texan when it came time to fill the top spot on his D.C. staff. Greg Hill, who counts a stint at the White House press office under Bush I as well as time at the law firm of former Senate majority leader Howard Barker, takes over the reigns as Pearce's chief of staff from New Mexican Jim Richards, who is now on the Capitol lobbying circuit. Hill comes to Capitol Hill from the Housing and Urban Development Dep't where he was an Deputy Assistant Secretary. Washington insiders say the choice of Hill, instead of sticking with a New Mexican is not unusual and that Pearce, who has a reputation as a tough boss, can utilize Hill's skills to climb the congressional ladder. Pearce continues to covet a spot on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.


Also on the D.C. beat, word comes that Penny Lee, a top aide to Pennsylvania governor and possible Prez contender Ed Rendell, has been hired as executive director of the Democratic Governors Association. This after a tussle we reported on that had Big Bill forcing out Lee's predecessor. Our Guv, chairman of the association, decided not to directly name a new ED after speculation surfaced that he was trying to use his position to tout his own 08' Prez candidacy. He opted for a search committee which named the Rendell loyalist. Big Bill rivals are trying hard to paint this one as a setback, questioning the political skills of his staff. Apparently no move is to minor for scorecards to be kept in the Alligator infested waters of Campaign 08'.

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