Last night, Andrew Romanoff, a former state legislator in Colorado running in a primary against incumbent Democratic senator Michael Bennett, revealed that, in September of last year, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina (not the guy who sang with Kenny Loggins, although that would have been awesome) had inquired about whether Romanoff would be interested in a federal job instead of running for the Senate. It's Sestak all over again! According to Romanoff:
"Mr. Messina also suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race. He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions. At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina's assistance in obtaining one."
Messina mentioned three jobs that Romanoff might be interested in: two at USAID, and one as the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. This morning, Robert Gibbs confirmed Romanoff's account (no stonewalling this time), but added another important detail that Romanoff had earlier applied for a position in USAID during Obama's White House transition period.
"Andrew Romanoff applied for a position at USAID during the Presidential transition. He filed this application through the Transition on-line process. After the new administration took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel. Jim Messina called and emailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the US Senate. Months earlier, the President had endorsed Senator Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.
Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the Administration, and that ended the discussion. As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job."
The funny thing about this becoming a story now is that the Denver Post had already reported pretty much the exact same thing last September. And as anyone in New York knows, the White House has never been shy about meddling in political races (see David Paterson, Kirsten Gillibrand) when the party's interests are at stake. Just like every other administration, ever. Critics will say that's the problem Obama promised to be "different," to end "business as usual" in Washington. So this might be disappointing, if you believed it would apply to, we suppose, everything. But at this point in Obama's presidency, we're way too far along to keep acting shocked every time we learn that the White House engages in traditional politics. It's like being 35 years old and crying after once again being told that your mom was the tooth fairy.