Here is Seneca’s latest update on Latino appointments in the Obama Administration:
Bill Richardson appears to have committed a big blooper. In a recorded video being bicycled around the internet, he states in Spanish that President Elect Obama is “un inmigrante.” Plainly, this feeds the anti-Obama bloggers, pundits, critics, bigots and other enemies of the newly elected President that want to believe he is ‘ineligible’ to become President because he is not “native born.” Of course, Richardson may have merely committed a gaffe (note the Supreme Court will not review Obama’s citizenship, as the Hawaii Health Department Director has confirmed that he was born in Hawaii).
It became clear that Obama will have so far at least two Asian Americans on Cabinet. Shinseki at Veterans Affairs and Chu at Energy, two African Americans: Holder at Justice as AG and Susan Rice at the UN, three white males Daschle at HHS, Geithner at Treasury and Gates remains at Defense, and one Latino to Commerce – Richardson. Still being speculated for Interior is Grijalva and Manny Diaz for HUD or Transportation. Talk of Xavier Becerra to USTR (the Trade Representative) died down this week, but no other name has surfaced and talk is that Becerra wants to stay in the House to be the third or fourth ranking Dem. Still the trade establishment is trying to recover from the shock of learning that Becerra is a serious contender for the USTR job. Becerra is not regarded as a genuine friend of trade agreements unless they address blue/green issues (labor/environmental) — both anathema to the corporate and trade mandarins. Frank Sanchez is still being toted as probably the new Presidential Envoy to Latin America. He will probably need to get Hillary Clinton, the new Secretary of State, designee’s buy in.
The NSC Director for Latin America appears to be on track for Colombian American Dan Restrepo. Luis Lauredo (Cuban American), former Clinton Ambassador to the OAS, is promoting himself as the possible new Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America as is Arturo Valenzuela (Chilean American), a Georgetown Professor who was Clinton’s last NSC Director for Latin America. Both have keen competition from Mark Schneider, a former Senator Ted Kennedy confidante and former Clinton Asst Administrator of AID for Latin America and Julia Schweig, a leading Latin expert on Cuba at the white bread Council on Foreign Relations.
Joe Garcia, the Dems’ recent unsuccessful challenger to Congressman Mario Diaz Balart, is being talked about as a possible and most viable candidate for the of the powerful FCC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Garcia (Cuban American) was formerly head of the Florida Public Utilities Board under the late Gov Lawton Chiles. Another Washington bagatelle has it that Henry Cisneros is strongly plugging for the recently defeated Texas Dems’ candidate for the US Senate, Rick Noriega to be the head of FEMA, which is not a job most people are rushing to embrace or seek. Word from Europe is that former Clinton Ambassador to Spain Ed Romero was seen visiting Madrid with Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez in tow. It seems that Romero is openly and brazenly supporting Chavez’ candidacy for Obama’s envoy to King Juan Carlos. Romero, along with Chavez, was assumed to be measuring the curtains at the sumptuous Ambassadorial digs. The question remains: Is Richardson also standing tall for Chavez? Being ambassador to Spain opens plenty of business opportunities after you leave office, and Romero knows this well. Next we might see a Latino measuring the drapes at the Ambassador’s abode in Mexico City…