By Politico and COLlive.com
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is slated to be named secretary of Commerce by President-elect Barack Obama, adding to the new administration’s heavy roster of Clinton administration veterans.
A top Democratic official said Richardson has passed final vetting but will be announced later.
Obama is scheduled to appear at noon (Eastern) Monday at a Chicago hotel with New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner, his choice for Treasury secretary, and Larry Summers, who will be the White House economic adviser.
Summers, who was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, was a finalist to return to that job, but lost out to Summers, his former deputy.
Richardson wanted to be secretary of State, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is scheduled to be tapped for that job after Thanksgiving.
So the Commerce job is something of a consolation prize for Richardson, who ran for president during the Democratic primaries and comes equipped with one of the best resumes in Democratic politics, albeit one weighted down by a reputation for being a headline-seeker and independent operator.
In the Clinton administration, Richardson was Energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Richardson, as United Nations ambassador, had vetoed resolutions critical of Israel, was one of the first governors to buy Israel Bonds. In 2007 Richardson said that he voted with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee “97 percent of the time” while a member of Congress. “I can’t figure out where [AIPAC] went wrong 3 percent of the time,” he quipped.
Richardson has visited Israel 12 times.
Soon after he annouced his candidancy, Richardson called Rabbi Berel Levertov, Chabad’s Shliach in Santa Fe and asked to meet.
“He’s a chevreman,” Rabbi Levertov told COLlive in an interview, using the Hebrew term for a very sociable person. “He knows to say the right things as a conversationalist, as if he knows you well. He’s a people person like Bill Clinton, who knows how to look you in the eye.”
Richardson has met with Levertov on a few occasions and was honored with lighting the Chabad public Chanukah Menorah. “He is a friend of Israel and sees us as the most public Jewish Community.”