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Biography

Full Name: William Blaine Richardson III
Party: Democratic
Political Office: Governor of New Mexico; elected 2002; U.S. Representative from NM, 1983-1997
Business/Professional Experience: Staff, U.S. House of Representatives, 1971-72; Staff, U.S. Department of State, 1973-75; Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, 1975-78; Executive Director, NM Democratic Party, 1978; Executive Director, Bernalillo County Democratic Committee, 1978; President, Richardson Trade Group, 1978-82; U.S. Ambassador to U.N., 1997-98; Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, 1998-2000; Senior Managing Director, Kissinger McLarty, Washington, 2001-2002
Date of Birth: Nov. 15, 1947
Place of Birth: Pasadena, Calif.
Education: B.A., Tufts University, 1970; M.A., Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1971
Spouse: Barbara Flavin; married 1972.
Children: None
Religion: Roman Catholic
Home: Santa Fe, N.M.

 

Updated Aug. 28, 2009

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was nominated for the position of secretary of commerce by President Obama, but he withdrew from consideration, citing an ongoing investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico. In August 2009, federal prosecutors decided not to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Richardson after a yearlong inquiry into accusations that his administration steered a lucrative contract to a high-profile political donor.

While in Congress, Mr. Richardson served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter for President Bill Clinton, and was named ambassador to the United Nations in December 1996. He earned a reputation as a tough and inventive negotiator, especially when dealing with America’s most entrenched adversaries, among them Iraq, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. In the 1990s, he negotiated the release of a downed American pilot imprisoned in North Korea, some Red Cross workers held in Sudan and two American contractors detained by Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Mr. Richardson was elected to Congress eight times before President Clinton selected him to be ambassador to the United Nations. In 1998, he became energy secretary; his term was clouded in controversy over problems with the Los Alamos national laboratory and the scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was accused of delivering nuclear secrets to the Chinese. All but one charge against Mr. Lee was dropped, but the turmoil was considered a major reason Mr. Richardson did not become Al Gore's vice presidential running mate in 2000.

He has been the popular governor of New Mexico since 2002. He ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but withdrew after coming in fourth in the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests.

Despite intense courtship by the Clintons and having served in Mr. Clinton’s cabinet, Mr. Richardson endorsed Mr. Obama during the epic 2008 primary battle. He also helped deliver the pivotal Hispanic vote in New Mexico for Mr. Obama, which helped flip the state to Democratic from Republican and ensure a Democratic victory.

By most accounts, he is the country’s most influential Latino politician. Hispanic groups had pushed hard for him to become secretary of state.

During the governor’s race in 2002, he made the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of hands shaken in a single day (13,392 in eight hours at the New Mexico State Fair). He met his wife, Barbara Flavin, while hitchhiking in the late 1960s near Boston.

Updated: 7 years 43 weeks ago

POLITICAL MEMO; Obama's Talk With Clinton Creates Buzz

Sun, 12/13/2009 - 3:03pm
Advisers to Pres-elect Barack Obama and Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton confirm that onetime rivals for Democratic nomination have met and discussed secretary of state job; say their conversation included other cabinet possibilities and that no job was offered; Democrats say Obama has also met with another candidate for post, Gov Bill Richardson of New Mexico; photo