New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has asked Barack Obama to withdraw his nomination to be Commerce Secretary. Obama has accepted his withdrawal..
As reported locally by Ken Camp on the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate Richardson’s office released a statement this afternoon announcing his withdrawal. Ken Camp was a strong advocate for Richardson’s campaign for President.
As reported by the New Mexican, Richardson’s statement was released by his office and noted the following:
“I felt that duty particularly because America is facing such extraordinary economic challenges. The Department of Commerce must play an important role in solving them by helping to grow the new jobs and businesses America so badly needs. It is also because of that sense of urgency about the work of the Commerce Department that I have asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time. I do so with great sorrow. But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months,” the governor said.”
In a statement by Obama released through Richardson’s office, Obama stated:
“It is with deep regret that I accept Governor Bill Richardson’s decision to withdraw his name for nomination as the next Secretary of Commerce.Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office. It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time …”
As noted in the Huffington Post:
“New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson abandoned his nomination to become commerce under pressure of a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors _ an investigation that threatened to embarrass President-elect Barack Obama. …A federal grand jury is investigating how a California company that contributed to Richardson’s political activities won a New Mexico transportation contract worth nearly $1.5 million. Richardson said in a statement issued by the Obama transition office that the investigation could take weeks or months but expressed confidence it will show he and his administration acted properly.”
I see two reasons why Richardson was forced by circumstances to withdraw. One certainly was the hint of pay to play politics that dominated the news with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich scandal over the nomination of a replacement Senator for Barack Obama’s seat. A second hint of scandal, even if not true, only focused the public’s attention more and more on the issue and away from Obama’s agenda.
The second reason was timing – Obama needs his cabinet appointments to hit the ground running and the grand jury investigation would only delay Richardson’s confirmation. Obama and the country need cabinet members to get busy tackling the problems left by Bush and the economic meltdown right away. Unfortunately Richardson’s problems left doubts as to when he would get Senate approval.
After an initial report by the Associated Press , both CNN and NBC News have confirmed that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will announce on Thursday that he is ending his campaign to be President. He finished 4th in Iowa with 2% of the Democratic vote and 4th in New Hampshire with 5% of the Democratic vote.
Barrack Obama won the Iowa caucus and Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire Primary. John Edwards finished second in Iowa and third in New Hampshire. Richardson really has little choice but to face reality – he lacks significant voter support and money.
Richardson had a lot to offer to Democrats and represented part of a strong field of contenders for the Democratic nomination this year. He joined Hillary Clinton in offering a long record of public service, including Congress, Secretary of Energy, Ambassador to the UN and 2 term Governor. As a Hispanic he contributed to the diversity of Democratic candidates running this year.
Two other Democrats dropped out after the Iowa Caucucs – Senator Joe Biden and Senator Chris Dodd. Any of these three candidates could show up in the Administration of the next Democratic President – whether it be Obama, Clinton or long shot Edwards. Edward’s chances look slim at this point. He is hopping for a strong finish in South Carolina but momentum and money and votes are with Clinton and Obama.
After 8 years of Bush, voters appear ready to install a Democrat as our next President. Democrats are ready to move to the future and address the many problems facing America that Bush and the Republican Congress ignored. Meanwhile the Republican candidates for President want to return to the past and support most of the policies of Bush.
Republican talk of change is a false illusion because the Republican candidates do not represent real change – they merely want to return to old tired policies of more tax cuts for the rich, more handouts for corporations, more support for the deadly oil and coal industry contributing to global warming, more support for military solutions to world problems and free market economic policies that brought us ENRON and the mortgage crisis and increasing income disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of us.
To date Barack Obama has raised some $75 million in his quest for the Presidency. Hillary Clinton has raised $63 million – some $12 million less.
Much hoopla is being raised about the fact that Clinton raised some $3 million more in the third quarter numbers through September 30th than Obama did. The New York Times claims in its headline that “Clinton Steals Obama’s Fund Raising Thunder” But one can look at these numbers in different ways. Hillary’s figure go from $20 million to $22 million to $23 million for the three quarters of this year. Pretty consistent numbers.
Barack’s number go from $25 million to $31 million to $19 million. In my mind $19 million is pretty close to $22 million. A shift in momentum -maybe but he is keeping pace with Hillary despite lower third quarter numbers and is still the overall leader in fundraising. In addition he has some 140,000 more new donors than Hillary does.
In reality both candidates are to be commended for their strong campaigns, reaching out to new donors and continuing to show fundraising strength. Individual donors are limited to $2100 for the primary election. An additional $2100 individual contribution can be made for the general election. Both Obama and Clinton have raised additional cash (beyond the figures reported above for the primary) which can only be used for the general election. Whoever loses will have to return these funds to the donors.
When all is said and done, summer is a hard time for any candidate to raise money. The remaining quarter before the caucuses and primaries start in January will be a real measure of whether a significant change has taken place. Once the primaries and caucuses start all bets are off as voting results will skew fundraising momentum day to day.
CNN politics reports that John Edwards came in third in fundraising with $7 million raised for the third quarter. Bill Richardson reports that he raised $5.2 million.
Official 3Q fundraising reports for all candidates are due on October 15th and are filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
In truth the public deserves better reporting than the current system requires. All candidates should be required to file monthly reports rather than quarterly reports. Washington State has had monthly reporting for a number of years, with reports due by the 10th of each month. See Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.
Monthly reporting would give the public quicker access to campaign finance records and more accountability on who’s supporting campaigns.
Posted in campaign finance, Elections, Obama
Tagged Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, campaign finance, Federal Elections Commission, fundraising, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Presidential election, Presidential Primary