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Noriega to Washington?

This would be excellent if it happens.

State Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston, the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate who served in Afghanistan and on the Mexican border as a Texas Army National Guard officer, met with President-elect Barack Obama today as Obama worked on filling leadership positions in his administration, according to confidential sources.

Democrat Noriega, who lost the Nov. 4 election to Republican incumbent John Cornyn, declined to discuss the meeting in Chicago. Obama’s transition team spokesmen also declined to comment.

The meeting appeared to be a potential first step toward consideration of Noriega, 50, for appointment to an administration position, and no specific job was mentioned, according to people close to the process who spoke on the condition of not being identified.

How about director of FEMA? I think we can all agree that Noriega has the experience and the know-how to do an outstanding job, and would be exactly the right kind of person to whip that once-worthy agency back into shape. Stace was way ahead of the curve on this one.

Houston political consultant Marc Campos, a Hispanic Democratic activist, noted on his daily Internet diary today that “there is some grumbling going on in Latino political circles nationwide; there haven’t been any Latinos announced for key positions in the new Obama administration — nothing, nada, zilch. Unless I am missing something, there haven’t been any Texans named either. Stay tuned on this one.”

Maybe they haven’t heard about Bill Richardson or Rep. Raul Grijalva, I don’t know. Admittedly, neither is official yet, with only Richardson seemingly sure. But the names are out there. With Rep. Chet Edwards staying home, Noriega would be the first Texan named that I can think of.

“Excellent,” fellow state House Democrat Garnet Coleman of Houston said when told Noriega had met Obama for possible consideration for a White House slot.

“He’s got a lot of areas of expertise, particularly his experience as a soldier and an officer, but he has also worked on utilities (for CenterPoint Energy) and also has an understanding of all the issues that cross the state’s desk,” Coleman said.

Coleman mentioned that Obama, as a former Illinois state senator, knows the value of people who have worked at a detailed level with state policy.

Sources with knowledge of Obama’s talk with Noriega indicated the transition team had not yet examined Noriega’s personal financial records — an inspection that precedes consideration of candidates for top-level appointments such as cabinet positions.

Obama’s team will stay in touch with Noriega as personnel selections unfold before Obama takes office in late January, the sources said.

I sincerely hope this happens. Whether FEMA or something else, it would be a fine choice, and well deserved for Noriega.

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One Comment

  1. Pat says:

    Wow. What a great choice Noriega would make for FEMA director. But given his experience with national security matters, and Coleman’s comments on his knowledge of matters that cross state’s desk, I wonder if Obama isn’t instead considering Noriega for an appointment in the executive office of the president to be a Czar of sorts for a variety of matters. To borrow from Josh Lyman on West Wing, maybe Obama has Noriega in mind to be his “wide-angle lens” in the White House for specific issues that reach the White House.