Bill Richardson will not be the new Secretary of Commerce.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from consideration as commerce secretary for President-elect Barack Obama, citing an ongoing investigation about business dealings in his state.

Richardson, 61, who competed unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, was secretary of energy and U.N. ambassador during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and also the first high-profile Latino named to Obama’s Cabinet.

But a grand jury in New Mexico is currently looking into charges of “pay-to-play” in the awarding of a state contract to a company that contributed to Richardson.

The importance of the inquiry was apparently dismissed when Richardson was first nominated. But it may have taken on more weight in light of the “pay-to-play” allegations involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

This is a big deal only bcause Richardson would have been excellent as Commerce Secretary, and we could use a good one right now. I’m sure Obama will find a suitable replacement.

Th media will have fun wih this for a day, as this offers yet another distraction, but it’s better to take the hit now.