Thursday, April 29, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: Matchmaker, Matchmaker

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

Nothing is going to stop speculation about our governor as a possible vice-presidential candidate until John Kerry finally makes the long-anticipated announcement.

The latest to weigh in on the veep selection, Barbie Adler, isn't your normal political commentator. In fact, she deals more with the politics of the heart than the regular kind. Adler runs Selective Search, an upscale matchmaking service in Chicago.

OK, quoting dating-service owners about these important political matters might seem silly. But at this point, matchmakers, psychics and card readers probably know as much about who Kerry will or should pick as your serious political pundits.

Adler was quoted this week in two major papers about finding a (running) mate for Kerry.

And guess who she likes?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Adler says, "because Sen. Kerry appears a bit stiff, his running mate ought to soften the team by being 'more human.' Her choice? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson."

And according to the Dallas Morning News, Adler said, "Gov. Richardson is a little bit down to earth. ... He's someone to watch football with -- more of a meat-and-potatoes type of guy."

Keeping with the food metaphor, Adler told the WSJ that while Kerry ordered lobster bisque, Richardson could eat cheeseburgers with us regular folk.

Meat, potatoes and Cohibas: However, Richardson's taste in cigars is hardly on the cheeseburger level.

Reporter Brent Israelsen of The Salt Lake Tribune was in Albuquerque for the recent Western Governors Association Energy Summit. In an interview with Richardson, he noted the governor's choice of expensive cigars from the embargoed island.

"Q: Since you're smoking a Cohiba, what would you do with Cuba?

"A: I would continue pressing Castro on human rights. I think his record is abominable. But I believe the best way to change Cuba is to consider some openings, perhaps some economic openings, rather than isolating it.

"Q: Would you lift the travel ban?

"A: Yes."

And for the love of Pete, don't do anything to hurt the cigar industry.

For the record, it is illegal to import Cuban cigars into the United States, but not illegal to possess or smoke them.

He's back before he's even gone: No disrespect meant to David Harris, the budget whiz who ably has served two governors from two parties and worked in two branches of state government.

But he's starting to remind me of the old song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?"

Last month, the governor's office announced that Harris would be leaving his post as executive director of the New Mexico Finance Authority to become an executive vice president of administration at The University of New Mexico. At the time Richardson said he'd be calling Harris back for "special assignments."

On Wednesday he did.

Richardson by executive order enlarged the Governor's Finance Council from 12 members to 16. The new posts will go to two cabinet secretaries -- Human Services and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources -- the state engineer and "a senior financial officer of a state institution of higher education, as selected by the governor."

For that slot, the governor selected Harris.

Harris, because of his former position, was already on the Finance Council, serving as co-chairman. That position will be filled by James Jimenez, secretary of Finance and Administration.

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