William Blaine Richardson

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William Blaine "Bill" Richardson (born November 15, 1947) is the current Governor of New Mexico and a member of the Democratic Party. He has served as a Congressman, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Secretary of Energy. He was also chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention that nominated John Kerry for the presidency. Richardson ran for President in 2008, but he dropped out after the New Hampshire primary.

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Background

Richardson was born in Pasadena, California into a bilingual household. His mother, Maria Luisa Lopez-Collada, was Mexican. His father "Bug" Richardson was a native of Boston, who worked for Citibank as an executive in Mexico for over 30 years. A Tufts University football player, Bug Richardson reportedly broke the leg of future Republican President West Pointer Dwight David Eisenhower in a 1913 game. Bill Richardson spent his early years in Mexico City, but as a teenager attended Middlesex School, a Boston-area high school. Richardson played baseball in high school and was such a fine pitcher that he was scouted though not drafted by several major league teams. He was drafted to serve in Vietnam, but he failed his physical exam. [1]

He went on to Tufts University, where he majored in French and Political Science. He then added a master's degree from Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He met his wife, Barbara Flavin, in Boston.

After college, he worked on congressional relations for the State Department. He was later a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1978, he moved to Santa Fe and ran for U.S. Congress. He lost on his first attempt, but won on his second.

Richardson spent 15 years representing the Third District of New Mexico in the U.S. Congress. As a congressman, he kept his interest in foreign relations. He visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and the Sudan to represent U.S. interests. He became a member of the Democratic leadership where he worked closely with President Clinton on several issues.

In 1997, President Clinton appointed him to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He served there until 1998, when he was appointed as U.S. Secretary of Energy. He served here until 2001. During his tenure the Wen Ho Lee case became a contrversy.

Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, defeating the Republican candidate, John Sanchez by 17 percentage points (56%-39%). He succeeded a two-term Republican governor, Gary Johnson. He took office in January 2003. Bill Richardson is the only Hispanic Governor in the United States. Early in his first term, it is said he has pressed energetically in a 100 directions at the same time. Some local observers have criticized that, when the cameras weren't on him, he reverts to a somewhat imperial style, seeking to impose his vision rather than respectfully consult and patiently build consensus. He has also been criticized for expanding and perhaps enjoying too much the perks of the position. So far his national reputation, polished by smooth major media appearances, remains rather unaffected by some of this less than positive local press. Much of the criticism is driven by the fact that Republicans perceive Richardson as a danger to their national political hegemony. In a November 20, 2005 interview with Don Imus Republican New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici was exposed as being too small to praise the excellent job that Richardson was doing.

Even as governor, Richardson continues to be interested in foreign policy. During the summer of 2003, he met with a delegation from North Korea to discuss concerns over that country's use of nuclear energy for the development of nuclear weapons.

He was named Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and announced a desire to increase the role of Democratic governors in deciding the future of their party, including the naming of the next Democratic National Committee leader (or leaders).

References

  • Traveling Troubleshooter Is Ready to Settle Down, at the U.N.:THE SECOND TERM: The New Lineup William Blaine Richardson, James Brooke, New York Times, Dec 14, 1996. pg. 11, 1 pgs
  • Toby Smith. "Richardson Threw a Wicked Curveball," Associated Press. November 24, 2005.
  • Transcript, "Interview With New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson," The Charlie Rose Show, Friday, November 4, 2005.
  • Michael Coleman, "Senator Avoids Prasing Nemesis." Albuquerque Journal. November 20, 2005.

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