Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Bill Come Back? His Name is Floated For Envoy Slot, Plus: Insiders Gauge Guv's Mood This Session, And: On The Congress Pay Raise Beat--Again 

Comeback Coming for Bill?
The first significant mention of Big Bill by the Obama administration has been made and it is good news for the Governor who has endured a barrage of negative press since being forced to withdraw his nomination as commerce secretary. The mention came out of the blue and from far away. The Korea Herald reports that Richardson's name is being floated for a diplomatic assignment:

The United States is considering New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former U.S. ambassador to Korea Stephen Bosworth as possible candidates for U.S. special envoy for negotiating the North Korean nuclear issue, the U.S.-run Radio Free Asia reported yesterday.

One insider points out that "special envoy" does not have to be a full-time position and would not necessarily require Bill to leave the Guv's office--he could do both jobs. He has conducted diplomacy in that manner in the past. Whether full-time or part-time, the name drop is fraught with political significance because of the timing. But the Guv was not biting, at least not publicly. His office said:

“It’s not true. The Governor has no interest, and has not had discussions with anybody about this.”

What? If the President calls, Bill has no interest? Let's keep blogging this...

The fact that the name drop came from the State Department headed by Hillary Clinton had to make the Guv feel good. His endorsement of Obama during the Dem prez primaries sent that relationship spiraling downward. That he would get any mention at all from the administration--even this indirect one--had to be a welcome relief. He has been under a cloud because of the federal grand jury investigating pay to play schemes in state government. It was that probe that cost him the plum cabinet position. Unlike a cabinet position, an envoy position does not require Senate confirmation.

Richardson supporters fear he will wear a Scarlett letter during President Obama's tenure and they welcomed the mere floating of his name as if he had won the Iowa presidential primary. They can hardly be blamed. Bill has never been lower politically. He needs a road back. The North Korea mission would not remove the cloud, but it sure would stop the rain.

If this name drop is for real and not accidental, as we believe, we then ask, why now? Well, Richardson is qualified. While not always successful in his North Korea forays, he has never dropped the ball and has served the nation well. Bill has also served the President well. Swing state New Mexico went big for Obama and so did the Hispanic vote--here and everywhere. Also, political operatives will now gauge reaction to the dropping of Richardson's name. Will negative noise be made about it? If not, the Guv could be back on the trail--the comeback trail, that is.

Even if Bill does not get the envoy slot, he has been thrown a welcome bone. As politically starved as he is, he will gnash on it with relish.


Wall-leaners at the Capitol say "subdued" best describes the mood of Big Bill this legislative session. "I've spoken with several of the legislators who have met with him and that's how they describe him,. The intensity and the bullying are not there. I'm wondering if some of the legislators might actually stat feeling sorry for him..," informs on Roundhouse resident.

No, feeling sorry for Big Bill is not on the list of things to do for the 112 lawmakers, but a more subdued Bill isn't necessarily a bad thing. The ongoing federal investigation and the inability to advance new programs because of the huge state revenue shortfall would be enough to make anyone subdued. The AP also poked around this subject.


We blogged this one a couple of weeks ago, and now we have an answer. The city of Moriarty will not get Bill's support for $4.5 million for water projects associated with the new race track and casino for the area. The Downs at ABQ, whose president is major Big Bill friend and fund-raiser Paul Blanchard, has won approval to move the racino near Moriarty. Any state money to benefit anyone associated with the Guv's fund-raising s is political dynamite.


Bill has gambled a lot of his political legacy on the southern NM Spaceport. It's a bet that could pay off. The very rich still want space rides.


High public pay is as hot as a subject gets in these days of economic strife, so we are back on the Congress pay raise beat again today. We asked the offices of New Mexico Congressmen Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan if they would join with southern NM Rep. Harry Teague and donate any approved pay raise to charity or back to the US Treasury. Lujan indicates he will:

In these tough economic times, charitable giving is more important than ever. Rep. Luján will select a charitable option to support, but I want to emphasize that he is focused on job creation...

Rep. Heinrich is opposing the hike, but not ready to say what he would do if it passes:

Rep. Heinrich is singularly focused on trying to ensure that the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act...becomes law. There is near unanimous support among the new Democratic Members and there are currently more than 93 co-sponsors in the House..We'll cross the "what if" bridge regarding what he'd do with the pay raise if the bill doesn't pass if we get to it.

Senator Udall says he is against the raise, but not saying whether he will keep it if it's approved. Senator Bingaman is saying he will defer the pay raise issue to the congressional leadership. If they want a pay freeze, so will he. As far as giving the money back if there is no freeze, he also has not said.

A measure to block the 2010 raise is pending. We mistakenly blogged a couple of days ago that the measure would block the pay raise that was awarded this month and that Lujan was not opposing the raise. The 2009 increase took effect this month and took congressional pay from about $169,000 to $174,000 per year.

We waded into this thicket this year because members are saying they understand the pain Americans are going through in difficult economic times. Our five member congressional delegation is proving itself to be a hard-working bunch and only Teague and Bingaman are independently wealthy. But if you can't put your money where your mouth is, why bother opposing the raise?

Val & his Dem registration
Actor and potential Dem Guv candidate Val Kilmer was blasted here Tuesday--the first volley in what could be a face-off for the 2010 Dem Guv nomination between a cast of characters including Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish. Former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough said Kilmer is a "pampered celebrity" and that the state needs someone with backbone and resolve. For him, that's Denish. Now comes a defense of Val. It's from an operative who knows how to frame a race, and here's how she framed it for Val:

I read with interest your article...My first thought was that the Denish folks appear to be very nervous to start playing negative this early...There are two reasons...that would make them nervous. First is name recognition, second is fund-raising. I don't think Val Kilmer will have a problem with those. The third may be that this country just elected a President that people discounted as not having much experience and was also considered an outsider..I wonder if New Mexico is also tired of the same old political players? ...Maybe we'll be ready to elect an intelligent outsider to fix the broken system...He will be able to make independent decisions for the benefit of all--not just the favored few.

If Kilmer is articulate as that friendly correspondent, he could be one interesting candidate.

By the way, Kilmer is a registered Democrat in Rowe, NM. The Alligators came with that info back on November 11 when they dug up Val's registration. We've posted it here again and you can click on it to enlarge. The actor, who has a 6,000 acre near Rowe, was previously registered as an independent and has been a Ralph Nader supporter. He made the switch to Dem last September. So if he does run, expect him to go for the Dem nod. 


A couple of emailers say we were too tough on Intel for not fessing up that layoffs were coming at the Rio Rancho plant when the company announced global layoffs of 6,000 last week. But we weren't. Here's what Intel told KRQE-TV that day:

It will be months before it's clear whether the closures and cutbacks at five U. S. and Asian Intel plants will have any affect on operations in Rio Rancho, a company spokeswoman said late Wednesday.

But the layoffs of up to 200 were announced only days later. Hey, it's their job to fade the heat, and it's ours to make them feel it. 

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