Thursday, April 03, 2008


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
April 3, 2008

When Hillary Clinton supporter James Carville likened Gov. Bill Richardson to Judas Iscariot because of the governor’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president, there’s been much speculation what Richardson’s “30 pieces of silver” might be.
Judas betrays the Lord with a kiss
Most speculation centers around a possible appointment to an Obama cabinet — or even a spot on the ticket.

But I think I know what one of those pieces of silver might be. It’s a payoff that’s more precious than gold to this governor: the gift of national publicity.

Some thought Richardson’s Obama endorsement would be a one- or two-day story. But since then, Richardson is about to wear out the carpet near the Capitol television studio, where he goes to make his national news appearances. He’s in the national spotlight now a lot more than he was during those lonesome final weeks of his presidential candidacy.

Ironically, Carville deserves some of the credit for keeping Richardson in the news. Earlier this week, the governor wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post defending himself against the Judas charge.
Carville casts the first stone
“Carville and others say that I owe President Clinton’s wife my endorsement because he gave me two jobs,” he wrote. “Would someone who worked for Carville then owe his wife, Mary Matalin, similar loyalty in her professional pursuits?” Matalin, though married to Democrat Carville, is a well-known national Republican operative.

Bill versus Bill: Richardson’s “betrayal” apparently was on the mind of his former boss and recent football-watching buddy, former President Clinton. According to a column in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, at the recent California Democratic Party convention the ex-prez gave an earful to a superdelegate named Rachel Binah who once supported Richardson for president but now supports Hillary Clinton.

According to columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Binah mentioned Carville’s Judas remark to the former president. “It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade,” the columnists wrote.

“ ‘Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that,’ a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.”
A wag of the finger
Clinton, according to the account, “went on a tirade that ran from the media’s unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama.”

Eventually he went back on script, taking the stage to talk about party unity and urging Democrats to “chill out” over the presidential contest.

Richardson responded to Bill Clinton on Wednesday on CNN’s The Situation Room. He denied he’d ever made such a promise to Clinton. “And the Clintons should get over it,” he said.

Evil Muppets? The downside to the recent publicity for Richardson is not all the coverage is flattering. In a blog called The Stump on The Nation’s Web site, writer Eve Fairbanks basically mocked Richardson’s Tuesday speech to the Organization of American States.

Actually it wasn’t Richardson or the speech she was ridiculing, but the voice of the English translator for the portions of the speech Richardson delivered in Spanish.
Was this Richardson's translator?
The translator, who Fairbanks said sounded like “the voice of a robot imitating Bela Lugosi,” spoke Richardson’s words “in this bizarrely overwrought, parodic, half-muppet-half-evil-dictator voice. Listening to him on the interpreter earphones was a truly weird experience: ‘(low, angry voice) The other trade agreements that have come up in Congress (voice shoots three octaves higher) have STROOOONGER measures!’ ”

It’s pretty much a stretch to blame the governor for the muppet/dictator translator. But somehow the speech reminded Fairbanks of some of Richardson’s less-than-stellar performances at some of the debates last year.

“But, as we’ve kind of forgotten since he isn’t at debates anymore, there’s something about him that cannot be taken seriously,’ “ Fairbanks wrote. “... Sadly, Richardson, despite his good intentions and his public service, is a gaffe on legs.’ ”

Who wants to be a millionaire?: Third Congressional District candidate Don Wiviott already tripped the Federal Election Commission’s “millionaire amendment” by contributing more than $350,000 of his own money to his campaign. But now it looks like he’s aiming for a “billionaire amendment.”

On Tuesday, Wiviott reported to the FEC that he kicked in an additional $300,000, bringing his self-funding total to $890,000.00.

The millionaire amendment allows Wiviott’s opponents in the Democratic primary to triple the maximum amount of contributions they can receive from individual donors from $2,300 to $6,900.

Am I Blue?: The campaign of Democratic U.S Rep. Tom Udall this week refused to say how much the congressman raised for his U.S. Senate race in the quarter that ended Monday. But a Democratic fundraising Web site called Act Blue reported Wednesday that Udall raised $195,315 on the site between Jan. 1 and March 31.

That gives Udall the third highest Act Blue performance for the quarter, behind Illinois Congressional candidate Dan Seals ($244,608) and Obama ($229,833).

Udall raised about $140,000 on Act Blue last year. So far, 641 people have contributed to him via that site.

Third Congressional District candidates raising money on Act Blue include Wiviott (250 contributions totaling $68,536); Ben Ray Luján (85 contributions totaling $38,107); Benny Shendo Jr. (24 contributions totaling $2,265); Jon Adams (seven contributions totaling $935); and Rudy Martin (two contributions totaling $120.)

These figures are not broken down into quarters, so contributions from last year are included.

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