Bill Richardson – Democrat
Bill Richardson was born November 15, 1947, in Pasadena, California. He was raised in Mexico City (his mother was from there) until age 13, then attended a Boston-area preparatory school. In high school at Middlesex School in Concord, he joined the baseball team and was the pitcher. Embracing the dream of a professional baseball career, he went on to play at Tufts University. However, his arm developed trouble, ending his baseball career. At the University, he majored in French and political science, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
He entered politics immediately after college. Starting out as an assistant to Congressman Bradford Morse from Massachusetts, he moved on to the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the Nixon administration, he worked for the Henry Kissinger State Department. Moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was elected to the House of Representatives as New Mexico’s 3rd district Representative in 1982.
He was to stay on in this position until 1997. During this time, he was very active in foreign interests, visiting Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan. He also chaired the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs in 1993, where he sponsored bills including the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act, the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act, the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, the Indian Tribal Jurisdiction Bill, and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act.
In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton appointed him to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He represented the United States in various UN proceedings regarding Palestinian and Israeli interests. In 1998, he was re-appointed as the U.S. Secretary of Energy, which he held for the remainder of Bill Clinton’s term. In 1998, he created the Director for Native American Affairs position and oversaw many sweeping policy changes with American Natives. He temporarily left politics by stepping down from this position in 2001.
Bill Richardson then worked a series of positions in the private sector, amongst them adjunct professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West. He was also on the board of directors for companies in the energy field, including Valero Energy Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling. He was also awarded a United States Institute of Peace Senior Fellowship.
After the brief time off from politics, he was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, surprisingly becoming that state’s first Hispanic Governor. In this office, he made sweeping improvements to the fiscal system. He also started the policy to award $400,000 in life insurance coverage for New Mexico National Guardsmen who serve on active duty, a policy which was to be later taken up by 35 other states. He also worked to build up the state’s infrastructure, in ways such as putting in a new rail line.
In a good pitch for progressives, he has championed the cause of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual rights , by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the official civil rights category of New Mexico. He also signed a bill to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, and responded to a question of whether this move would hurt his chances for the Presidency with the famous quote, “It doesn’t matter, it was the right thing to do.” And he is pro-choice.
His accomplishments to stimulate the economy of New Mexico, including a plan to establish a space tourism industry, have been so successful that “Forbes” magazine rated Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers, and the Cato Institute has given him credit as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation.
Bill Richardson has announced his candidacy for President in 2008. Out of all the Democratic and even Libertarian and Green candidates in 2008, he is the only possible candidate whom can be called “100% Liberal”. In fact, he is shooting for the highest praise amongst Democrats, the “Progressive”.
It is hard to believe that Bill Richardson has not swept the Democratic vote already. He has proven himself in policies pertaining to economy, foreign relations, civil rights and liberties, racial relations, tribal relations, education, and fiscal policy. He is indeed an as-yet-undiscovered diamond to the Liberal Democrats, but time will tell if he did, indeed, damage his chances as President by “doing the right thing”, that is, by being too Liberal to attract Conservative voters.