Inside the Capitol

Saturday, December 02, 2006

12-8 Richardson Appoints Another Transition Team

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- No sooner had Gov. Bill Richardson won reelection than he set up a transition team for his next term.
I don't remember transition teams being especially common among second-term governors or presidents but then this is an uncommon governor.
It seems fair to say that all of Richardson's actions can be analyzed in terms of his intense desire to climb the political ladder. That's not necessarily bad, however. He is speaking the truth when he says he wants to be the best governor he can be. That's a good way to get voters to elect you to higher office.
Gov. Richardson wants the 50-member transition team he appointed to look at the past four years and tell him what we can do better. Unfortunately, as with our current president, success usually involves spending a great amount of money.
So, will there be a lot of changes in Richardson's next term? That's what everyone wants to know. A number of top personal changes are not uncommon at the beginning of a second term. But that's not something Richardson has waited to do. If a top employee gets in trouble, he pulls the plug quickly.
Richardson is doing about as well as can be expected for a small state governor at this point in a presidential race. Most polls and pundit rankings have him firmly in the second tier of candidates.
Everyone's first tier of Democratic presidential hopefuls always includes Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. John Kerry has fallen out of that category, at least for awhile. Al Gore still is there, along with John Edwards.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore's vice-presidential running mate in 2000, is getting some mention these days. He probably falls into the same category as Republicans John McCain, Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney -- capable of winning but not likely to get their party's nomination.
After watching Lieberman's performance in the Connecticut senatorial race, Democrat leaders might be having second thoughts, however. After Connecticut Democrats rejected him in the primary and Washington Democrats shunned him in the general, Lieberman nevertheless ended up winning by a very large margin.
But Lieberman is taking a wait-and-see attitude while employing one of Harry Truman's favorite adages "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
With all that is going on in foreign affairs, Richardson still gets interviewed often and those interviewers usually toss in a question about his presidential intent.
As we've said before, Richardson is likely the best prepared of the candidates, with experience both in management and foreign affairs.
A presidential historian recently tossed cold water on that theory, however, contending that the best-prepared president in our history probably was James Buchanan, who did nothing to keep our nation out of civil war. He was followed by perhaps the least-prepared president, Abraham Lincoln.
With New York Sen. Hillary Clinton currently leading Democrat polls and former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani leading the Republicans, political watchers are chuckling about it being an all-New York race.
Guiliani is seen as having great difficulty getting the religious right vote that usually is needed to win GOP primaries, but that group has lost some of its favorite candidates. First Virginia Sen. George Allen didn't win reelection and then Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist announced he wouldn't run for president.
Gov. Mitt Romney, of Massachusetts, fits in the religious right category, but he is Mormon, a denomination not well-accepted by the rest of the religious right.
Romney heads the Republican Governors Association, which produced a $115,000 ad criticizing Richardson for being out of state too often, running for president. Republican challengers in states with more competitive races wonder what Romney's motivation for the anti-Richardson might have been.

FRI, 12-08-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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