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Slim pickings in assignments

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By Ralph Damiani

Tom Udall, New Mexico’s newest U.S. senator, seems to have made a poor deal in his desire to be a  U.S. Senator.

This week, his committee assignments were released and we are unimpressed.

When he decided to run for the Senate – at the urging of state and national Democratic leaders – it seems that he did not hold out for much of a deal.

Not only was he going to give up his House seniority, he was almost assured of an election victory. So one would have thought that he’d have requested some powerful Senate assignments in return for handing the Democrats a long-held Republican seat.

Not so.

See, Sen. Udall is now a member of the Senate’s committees on Indian Affairs, Environment and Public Works, Rules and Administration and Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Now, having one vote out of 100 is better than one out of 435, as in the House. And these are not terrible committees, it’s just that they are not exactly top-of-the line.

In the House, he was on:

• Committee on Appropriations

• Committee on Resources

• Committee on Small Business

• Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

And he had built up some seniority and he was never going to be in doubt for re-election.

Now he’s on some boring panels that have no play in what’s going on in crisis America. Or in New Mexico.

In the House, he was a power-forward. Now, he’s on the sidelines.

What’s really bad about this is that right now New Mexico is out of the loop. With three freshman representatives we need some power in the Senate.

All we have is Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who is on some good committees and has some power.

The weak, ho-hum assignments that Udall has been stuck with do little to help New Mexico.

It seems like he could have made a better deal going in as a condition of running. It is too bad for all of us that it seems like he did not.