Is Bill Richardson Heading for DC?

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Political watchers in New Mexico are buzzing about Gov. Bill Richardson’s presence at a White House State Dinner earlier this week. Politics Daily reports that speculation centers on Richardson taking a post in the Obama Administration, possibly an ambassadorship:

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday night dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “the most sought-after invitation in Washington.” Scoring two of the hottest tickets in the country — one for himself and one for wife Barbara — Richardson has set New Mexico political circles abuzz with fresh speculation about his future. Richardson was persona non grata with the administration from January through late summer, when a federal grand jury in Albuquerque ended its investigation and announced that Richardson and his staffers would not face criminal indictment on corruption charges….

Whether the fact that Richardson was invited to a party for Singh has any further significance is anyone’s guess. But Richardson insiders say the deal has been clinched — he’s eager to leave New Mexico and its pesky $650-million budget deficit — and Tuesday’s State Dinner will be his coming-out party.

President Obama had nominated Richardson for Secretary of Commerce; however, the governor withdrew his nomination due to the ongoing investigation. Richardson – who spearheaded the development of Spaceport America – will end his second four-year term as New Mexico governor in early 2011. He could not run for re-election because of term limits.

A federal appointment would be a reward for the New Mexico governor’s support for Obama’s during the Democratic primaries. Richardson – who had served as Secretary of Energy and U.N. Ambassador under Bill Clinton – upset the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Clinton backer James Carville called Richardson a “Judas” for his endorsement.

As a result, an ambassadorial appointment would put Richardson into a working relationship with Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State oversees the diplomatic corps. It’s possible that they have put their disagreement behind them.