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Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives, Gift of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress


Bill Richardson’s dual U.S.-Mexican heritage and his ability to interact in Washington’s policy circles facilitated his success as a policy aide and as a Member of the U.S. House. During his 14 years in Congress, Richardson responded to constituent requests, burnished his foreign policy credentials, and raised the stature of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He also crafted a unique role as a diplomatic troubleshooter for the William J. (Bill) Clinton administration. Of the power that comes with public service, Richardson wrote, “Politics in a democracy is a competition over ideas, and it is inevitable there will be winners and losers. Any freely elected politician who says he doesn’t crave power to get the laws and programs he thinks best for his city, state, or nation is either dissembling or belongs in a different business.”1

The son of William Blaine Richardson, Jr., and Maria Louisa Lopez-Collada, William Blaine Richardson III was born in Pasadena, California, on November 15, 1947. As a manager for the National City Bank of New York (a predecessor to Citibank), Richardson’s father worked in a number of foreign countries before settling in Mexico City, where he met his future wife Maria, who was a secretary at the bank. Richardson recalled his father “was proud of his American son, and my mother was very proud of her Mexican son. Their pride was passed down to me, and I grew up honoring both the United States and Mexico and the language and culture of each country.” Richardson and his sister, Vesta, were raised in a bilingual household; his father spoke to the children in English, and his mother addressed them in Spanish.2 Richardson attended school in Mexico City for seven years and then boarded at a private school in Concord, Massachusetts. He subsequently attended his father’s alma mater, Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts. Majoring in political science and French, Richardson became active in politics when he ran for the presidency of his fraternity and won. Richardson recalled that experience as “my first taste of politics.… I liked all the organizing … and I found that I was good at it. I started to appreciate that there was power that came with the office.”3 After receiving his B.A. in 1970, Richardson applied to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Bedford, Massachusetts, where he participated in student government. He graduated with an M.A. in international affairs in 1971 and married his high school and college sweetheart, Barbara Flavin, in 1972. The Richardsons have no children.4

After college, Richardson moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a staff member for Representative F. Bradford Morse of Massachusetts, a moderate Republican, from 1971 to 1973. In 1974 Richardson left to work as a congressional relations aide for the State Department. “Human-rights issues at the State Department,” he recalled, “were what made me a Democrat.”5 In 1976 Richardson returned to Capitol Hill to work as a staffer for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations until 1978.6

Eight years of working as a staffer convinced Richardson that aides could affect the way legislation was implemented, but he decided that type of influence “was no substitute for the power to do good things for people that comes with elected office.” Richardson’s itinerant early life had prevented him from building an electoral base from which to launch a political career. After speaking with the staff of Senator Joseph Montoya, Richardson decided to move to New Mexico to “work hard in Democratic politics, make a contribution, and eventually run for office.… I told one and all that my ambition was to run for the United States Congress.”7

Richardson introduced himself to the New Mexico political establishment and immersed himself in state politics for two years. While establishing his political bona fides, Richardson opened a consulting firm, taught politics and government in Santa Fe, and prepared himself to run against six-term incumbent Manuel Luján, Jr., in New Mexico’s First Congressional District.8 A mixture of liberal and conservative areas encompassing Albuquerque and Santa Fe—two of the state’s largest cities—the district spanned the northeastern and north-central portions of New Mexico.9

Richardson announced his candidacy in September 1979 and promised to bring industry and jobs to northern New Mexico using public and private resources.10 He believed casting Lujan as a puppet of the energy industry—“an almost invisible presence in Washington” who “voted against the interests of his district”—would give him a decent chance of winning. Compensating for limited financial support from Democratic political organizers, and minimal name recognition, Richardson financed his campaign using donations from organized labor PACs and a $100,000 inheritance.11 House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill of Massachusetts and prominent officials from the James Earl (Jimmy) Carter administration eventually backed him. “I was campaigning twelve or fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, and Lujan was doing nothing,” Richardson recalled. Richardson lagged in the polls one week before the election but managed to gain ground. Luján clung to his seat, with 51 percent of the vote to Richardson’s 49 percent.12 Although the Democratic National Campaign Committee offered to pay for a recount, Richardson declined. “I was ecstatic,” he said. “I had prepared myself to lose: All I wanted was to lose respectably so that my political prospects were not foreclosed.” 13

In 1982, Richardson ran in the newly created Third District, which covered much of northwestern New Mexico and included the major cities of Farmington and Santa Fe. Its majority-Hispanic population had sent many nuevomexicano Delegates, Representatives, and Senators to Washington. The district contained numerous American Indian reservations along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, a surplus of natural resources such as oil, gas, and coal, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a top-tier research lab and the birthplace of the atomic bomb. It also drew upon a mixture of political ideologies, with conservative San Juan County and Farmington offset by liberal voters in the state capital of Santa Fe.14 Richardson described the district as “tailor-made for a Democrat and a Hispanic.” He filed early to run for the seat, but met resistance from long-standing political bosses who encouraged their acolytes to run for the seat. The result was a fight for the June 1982 Democratic primary between Richardson, lieutenant governor Roberto Mondragon, district judge George Perez, and future Congressman and Senator Tom Udall.15

Behind in the early polls, Richardson reached beyond his nuevomexicano base by appealing to conservative Anglo Democrats in the district’s larger cities and to Navajo voters who had backed his 1980 run.16 Richardson recalled a frenetic primary finish: “We logged hundreds of miles of travel around the new Third, shoring up the Hispanic base, reinforcing my interest in Anglo voters, telling the Navajos that I meant it when I said I’d work their interests in Washington.” Richardson won by a decisive plurality of 36 percent, ahead of Mondragon (30 percent), Perez (19 percent), and Udall (13.5 percent).17

Richardson’s opponent in the general election was Republican Marjorie Bell Chambers, a two-time member of the Los Alamos county council, a former president of Colorado College, and a nationally recognized expert on civil rights and education issues. Both candidates promised to bring industry and economic opportunities to the district, pressing the state for tax incentives and the federal government for job training and environmental protection. Richardson criticized the Ronald W. Reagan administration’s economic policies and garnered endorsements from Speaker O’Neill and Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy of Massachusetts.18 Chambers, a lifelong New Mexican, brought up Richardson’s recent move to the state and compared him to a “Ping-Pong ball, first coming up on one side of an issue and then popping up on the other side.” Richardson recalled, Chambers “came at me from the start with an odd and out-of-character bias: Let’s send this guy back to Mexico.”19 Richardson canvassed the district—in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans nearly three to one—and won 64 percent of the vote on Election Day. In his victory speech, Richardson said he would begin working “tomorrow morning.… I promised to be a fighter, so I’ve got my work cut out for me,” he added. In each of his six subsequent re-election campaigns, Richardson earned at least 60 percent of the vote.20

Richardson embraced a straightforward approach to his congressional career: “Err on the side of trying to do too much rather than the side of doing too little.” Upon entering Congress, Richardson won seats on the Energy and Commerce and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, but he quickly grew frustrated with the Veterans’ Affairs assignment. He moved to the House Committee on the Interior (later Natural Resources), whose jurisdiction included Indian affairs, natural resources, and public lands. Between the Energy and Commerce and Interior Committees, Richardson could oversee some of New Mexico’s most important interests. Richardson also served on the Education and Labor Committee and on two select committees, and he was the first Hispanic-American Member to serve on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He served as chairman of the Interior Committee’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995).21

According to a popular political study, Richardson maintained a liberal voting record, with few exceptions. He tended to vote pro-business, especially on issues that affected his oil and gas constituencies in New Mexico. He also advocated for pro-business enterprise zones, especially between the United States and Latin American countries.22 Between his duties in Washington and his constituent casework, Richardson maintained a punishing schedule. “During my fourteen years in Congress,” Richardson recalled, “I averaged at least a couple of weekends a month in my home district.” Consistent with his reputation, he described his approach as “moving a thousand miles an hour, hustling on all my committees and working my staff to death.”23

Early in his congressional career, Richardson scored a victory for his American Indian constituents with the passage of two bills that entrusted a portion of federal lands to the Pueblos.24 As chairman of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, Richardson proposed a number of bills involving health, education, and employment initiatives that became law. Richardson also shepherded to passage H.R. 4487, a bill that amended the Public Health Service Act by extending the National Health Service Corps and providing grants to states that supported rural health offices.25

Richardson took seriously his role as a Representative of Hispanic descent. He recalled that he “was not interested in becoming a professional Hispanic, but my heritage was central to my identity, and I was proud of it.” Early in his first term, Richardson was elected chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). Later, he learned that Edward Roybal of California and Robert Garcia of New York, both previous chairs of the caucus, “settled on me as chairman, despite my rookie status, to avoid a divisive fight” for the seat. Richardson used his platform as chairman to feature legislation that affected Hispanic Americans and U.S. relations with Latin America. He also enhanced the CHC’s influence and effectiveness by providing it with more public exposure.26

Richardson’s strong interest in foreign affairs was manifest in his efforts to promote democratization and business interactions with Latin America in the 1980s. Richardson called for the United States to engage Latin American nations by providing economic aid and actively encouraging political democratization.27 He noted that “military dictatorships were being cast aside … one-party rule was getting competition at last … and new leaders were committed to free elections that were emerging everywhere.” Richardson viewed these changes as “developments to be encouraged by the United States, which wasn’t always subtle or skillful in its application of carrots and sticks.” Taking to the House Floor, Richardson criticized parts of the Reagan administration’s approach, especially as it related to El Salvador and Nicaragua.28 However, Richardson openly criticized Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the leader of the communist Sandinista Party, both in the press and to Ortega’s face. Ortega “promised land reform and an inclusive government,” Richardson recalled. “Instead, he ruled as head of a junta that consolidated power and ran roughshod over all opposition.” When a congressional delegation led by the CHC visited Nicaragua in December 1984, Richardson and Ortega “had a verbal fight: He defended his policies and I attacked his deteriorating record on human rights.”29 Richardson’s position on supporting the Nicaraguan Contras changed over time. When he entered Congress, Richardson opposed the Reagan administration’s efforts to undermine the Sandinista government by providing military support for the anti-communist Contras. But in his second term, Richardson criticized the Sandinista regime’s human rights abuses. He eventually supported sending the Contras humanitarian aid with stipulations that the resources could not be used to buy weapons.30

Richardson served as a chief deputy whip for the House Democrats and an unofficial diplomatic envoy. As chief deputy whip in the 103rd Congress (1991–1993), Richardson helped maintain party discipline and count and round up votes to promote the agenda of House leadership. Two issues—the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the passage of the president’s first budget plan—dominated that Congress, as President Clinton began his first term on an active note.31 Richardson described his role as an envoy as a “fact-finding member of the (House) Intelligence Committee or a requested negotiator or an unofficial representative of the Clinton administration. Sometimes I was all three.” Increasingly, the President asked him to serve abroad, and Richardson dubbed himself the “informal undersecretary for thugs” since he worked in countries with repressive regimes, such as Burma, Haiti, Iraq, Cuba, and North Korea.32

Richardson was a strong supporter of NAFTA and had long advocated enterprise free trade zones and emphasized improving business relations between the United States and Mexico. With the economic liberalization of Mexico in the late 1980s, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari advocated for negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States to maintain Mexico’s economic growth. In September 1990, President George H. W. Bush agreed to support the measure and fast-tracked the legislation per congressional approval in 1991.33 In a public letter, Richardson advised the Bush administration to “develop a long-term strategy for free trade throughout the hemisphere.”34 Although this initiative began in the Bush administration, President Clinton also supported the bill’s passage. “If we nix this NAFTA, there will be little or no hope of renegotiating another deal later next year or … in our lifetime,” Richardson warned his colleagues.35 Richardson was one of the chief deputy whips who rounded up votes for the bill to implement NAFTA (H.R. 3450). The “complex politics of NAFTA were best demonstrated by Clinton’s owing his House victory more to Republicans than to his own party,” Congressional Quarterly noted. Although Majority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Majority Whip David Bonior of Michigan opposed NAFTA, Richardson and other pro-NAFTA Democrats garnered Democratic support to ensure the bill’s passage.36

In late 1992, Richardson had sought the nomination for Secretary of the Interior in the incoming Clinton administration, but he was passed over in favor of former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt.37 In 1997 President Clinton nominated Richardson to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. After a successful confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, Richardson resigned from the House on February 13, 1997.38 In June 1998, President Clinton nominated Richardson to serve as Secretary of Energy. Confirmed in August 1998, Richardson served in that capacity for the remainder of President Clinton’s second term.39 Richardson later worked in the private sector while preparing for a gubernatorial run in New Mexico. Elected governor in 2002, he served for two terms (2003–2011).40 In 2007 Richardson announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for U.S. President in the 2008 election, but he dropped out of the race in January 2008.41 Richardson currently serves as chairman of Global Political Strategies, an international business consulting firm.42


1Bill Richardson with Michael Ruby, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007): 120. Hereinafter referred to as Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life.

2Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 12–24.

3Ibid., 41–42. Richardson describes his experiences at Tufts on pp. 35–45.

4Ibid., 43–45, 50–51.

5Ibid., 48–59, quotation on p. 57; Report of the Clerk of the House from January 1, 1972, to June 30, 1972, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1972, H. Doc 92-346: 88; U.S. Department of State Telephone Directory, various editions (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1974, 1975); U.S. Department of State, The Biographic Register (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1974): 286.

6Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 59–62; Report of the Secretary of the Senate from January 1, 1976, to September 30, 1976, Part 1, 94th Cong., 2nd sess., 1976, S. Doc. 94-279-Pt. 1: 801; Charles B. Brownson, ed., Congressional Staff Directory, 1977 (Washington, D.C.: Staff Directories, Ltd., 1977): 170; Brownson, ed. Congressional Staff Directory, 1978: 181.

7Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 63–65.

8Ibid., 65–70.

9Congressional Directory, 97th Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981): 956; Almanac of American Politics, 1980 (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1979): 566; Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 65.

10Bruce Campbell, “Richardson Says Lujan Doesn’t Produce ‘Clout,’” 23 October 1980, Albuquerque Journal: A8; Robert Storey, “Richardson Criticizes Lujan Campaign,” 4 September 1980, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): B1; Bruce Campbell, “Determined Richardson Stays in There Pitching against Lujan,” 26 October 1980, Albuquerque Journal: A1; Bruce Campbell, “Richardson, Lujan Ease Up on Barbs,” 1 November 1980, Albuquerque Journal: C2.

11Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 75; Robert V. Beier, “Campaign Short of Funds But Richardson Optimistic,” 5 September 1980, Albuquerque Journal: C7; Paul R. Wieck, “Lujan, Richardson Even in Spending on Campaigns,” 23 October 1980, Albuquerque Journal: E1; “Lujan-Richardson Race Most Aggressive in Decade,” 2 November 1980, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): B2.

12Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.” Richardson recalled that “Lujan had won by less than one percent”; see Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 77.

13Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 71–76; Steve Terrell, “Richardson Arrived in N.M. with Eye toward Congress and Beyond,” 23 November 2007, The New Mexican (Santa Fe). For an analysis of the race, see Robert Storey, “Richardson Comes Oh, So Close,” 5 November 1980, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1.

14Albuquerque Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, “Indian Pueblos and Reservations,” default.aspx (accessed 30 May 2012); Congressional Directory, 98th Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1983): 1020; Politics in America, 1982 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1981): 1000; Robert Storey, “New Congressional District as Diverse as the Issues,” 17 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1.

15Bill Feather, “Bingaman, Anaya, Richardson Grab Top Demo Spots,” 22 March 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1. For two examples of debates during the primary, see Robert Storey, “Congressional Hopefuls Agree on Arms Sales,” 13 May 1982, (Santa Fe) The New Mexican: A1; Robert Storey, “Candidates Propose Solutions to High Interest Rates,” 15 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A5. In March 1982 the Democratic nominating convention had selected Richardson, Mondragon, Perez, and Udall as candidates for the primary.

16Richardson’s campaign nearly derailed on two occasions. He backtracked from a statement in his official campaign biography that he was the “top” foreign policy aide to Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, insisting that he was Humphrey’s principal aide on a Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee. “Richardson Backs Off on Job History,” 13 April 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1. For an editorial that chastised Richardson for this statement, see “Richardson’s Gaffe,” 15 April 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A6. In another incident, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) confronted Richardson with questions about a series of personal loans he had made to his campaign totaling more than $170,000. Richardson denied any wrongdoing and was eventually cleared, though the charges cast a long shadow over the election. See Robert Storey, “Richardson’s Campaign Loan Questioned,” 25 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Denise Kessler, “New Facts Muddle Richardson Finances,” 28 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Denise Kessler, “Former Candidate Seeks Explanations from Richardson,” 29 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Denise Kessler, “Election Board Dismisses Complaint on Richardson,” 9 June 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Denise Kessler, “FEC Clears Richardson in Probe of Campaign Finances,” 4 August 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Paul R. Wieck, “Richardson Explains Mother Was behind Loan Guarantee,” 13 August 1982, Albuquerque Journal: A1.

17Office of the Secretary of State, New Mexico. State of New Mexico Official Returns, 1982 General, Special, and Primary Returns (Santa Fe: n.p., 1982). Out of a total of 63,845 votes, Richardson earned 23,123, Mondragon earned 19,691, Perez earned 12,412, and Udall earned 8,619. “Richardson Formally Enters Race for Congress,” 28 January 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A3; “This Weekend Is No Holiday for NM’s Primary Candidates,” 29 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 77–81. As one observer noted, a key difference was that Richardson’s 1982 campaign was better organized. See Robert Storey, “Richardson’s New Campaign Strategy Paying Off,” 16 May 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1.

18Robert Storey, “Candidates Appear to See Eye-to-Eye on Most Big Issues,” 18 September 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1. For Chambers’s background, see Robert Storey, “Chambers: Artist of Compromise,” 10 October 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Polly Summar, “Marjorie Bell Chambers: Los Alamos Politician Was a ‘Powerhouse,’” 26 August 2006, Albuquerque Journal: D8; Robert Storey, “Kennedy Thrills Democrats,” 27 September 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1.

19Robert Storey, “Chambers Lambasts Richardson,” 11 September 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 81.

20“Lack of Party Support Disappoints Chambers,” 2 November 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A4; Jon Bowman, “Richardson Coasts Past Chambers,” 3 November 1982, The New Mexican (Santa Fe): A1; “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

21Garrison Nelson, Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1947–1992, vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1994): 743–744; Garrison Nelson and Charles Stewart III, eds., Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1993–2010 (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011): 906–907; Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 82–86.

22Politics in America, 1994: 1011. For a detailed outline of the enterprise zone, see Bill Richardson, “Hispanic American Concerns,” Foreign Policy 60 (Autumn 1985): 30–39, especially p. 35.

23Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 83–84, 87, 92–93. See also Politics in America, 1992: 979.

24Congressional Record, Index, 99th Cong., 2nd sess.: 2863, 2875. Richardson successfully sponsored H.R. 4090, a bill that established the Glorieta National Battlefield to commemorate a pivotal battle of the Civil War in New Mexico. See Congressional Record, Index, 101st Cong., 2nd sess.: 2644. Richardson also sponsored H.R. 40 (P.L. 100-225), a bill that established the El Malpais National Monument Park in northwestern New Mexico.

25Congressional Record, Index, 102nd Cong., 2nd sess.: 2662; Politics in America, 1994: 1012. For a detailed example of Richardson’s successful sponsorship of public lands legislation, see “Congressman Bill Richardson and the 1984 Creation of the Bisti and De-Na-Zin Wilderness Areas in Northwest New Mexico,” in Ferenc M. Szasz, Larger Than Life: New Mexico in the Twentieth Century (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006): 50–66.

26Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 96–97; Jacqueline Trescott, “Rallying around Richardson,” 21 September 1984, Washington Post: A1; John Dillin, “US Hispanics Want to Stop Flood of Aliens,” 9 October 1985, Christian Science Monitor: 3. Richardson voiced his opposition to a constitutional amendment requiring the use of English. See Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (30 April 1985): 9970.

27Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 97; “A New Role for the Hispanic Caucus,” Hispanic Review of Business, March 1985: 20–21. For an overview of Richardson’s approach toward U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, see Richardson, “Hispanic American Concerns”: 30–39. For a unique recommendation of providing aid and promoting democratization short of military force, see Bill Richardson, “Here’s How to Get Noriega,” 11 May 1989, New York Times: A29.

28See Congressional Record, House, 98th Cong., 1st sess. (27 April 1983): 9864–9865; Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (6 February 1985): 1860–1861. Richardson criticized (and voted against) the CIA’s funding of the Nicaraguan Contras during the House Floor debate over H.J. Res. 239. See Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (23 April 1985): 8989–8997, 9085–9086; but supported the implementation of a peace process and humanitarian aid in H.J. Res. 247. See Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (24 April 1985): 9256–9257. Two months later, Richardson voted in favor of sending humanitarian aid (in an amendment to H.R. 2577) to the Contras because of his opposition to the Daniel Ortega regime in Nicaragua, bipartisan coordination with Republican Members on the details of the amendment, and support for President Reagan’s negotiation attempts with the Sandinista government, but the amendment did not pass. He also voted for the final passage of H.R. 2577, which passed in a 271 to 156 vote. See Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (12 June 1985): 15399–15400, 15419–15420.

29Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 98. The debate became so heated that “Arcy Torres, wife of Representative Esteban Torres … pinched my arm and asked me to cool it,” Richardson recalled.

30Politics in America, 1987: 994. Richardson criticized the Ortega government on the House Floor. See Congressional Record, House, 99th Cong., 1st sess. (3 April 1985): 7442.

31Roger H. Davidson and Walter J. Oleszek, Congress and Its Members, 10th ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2006): 166–167; Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 106, 110–118.

32Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 121, 199. For an extensive chronicle of Richardson’s diplomatic missions, see pp. 121–197. For a contemporary account, see Bill Richardson, “Diary of a Reluctant Diplomat,” 15 January 1995, Washington Post: C1.

33“Congress OKs North American Trade Pact,” in CQ Almanac 1993, 49th ed. (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1994): 171–179.

34Bill Richardson, “Free Trade with Mexico, Sí!”, 22 March 1991, Washington Post: A25. See also Bill Richardson, “Mexico—the Answer to Bush’s Domestic Troubles,” 12 December 1991, Wall Street Journal: A14.

35Congressional Record, House, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (18 October 1993): 24868; Congressional Record, House, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (1 November 1993): 26922–26923.

36“Congress OKs North American Trade Pact,” CQ Almanac1993.

37Adam Clymer, “Push for Diversity May Cause Reversal on Interior Secretary,” 23 December 1992, New York Times: A1; Dan Balz, “Picking the Clinton Cabinet: The Winners, the Losers and Those Who Got Lost in the Shuffle,” 9 May 1993, Washington Post: M6. Richardson writes that environmental groups’ criticisms of his voting record and Vice President Al Gore’s endorsement of Babbitt were deciding factors in Clinton’s choice for Secretary of the Interior. See Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 106–109.

38For Richardson’s experiences at the U.N., see Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 198–232; James Brooke, “Traveling Troubleshooter Is Ready to Settle Down, at the UN,” 14 December 1996, New York Times: 11; Eric Pianin, “Richardson: A Daring Diplomat,” 14 December 1996, Washington Post: A10; Faye Bowers, “America’s Nimble New Ambassador to the UN,” 13 February 1997, Christian Science Monitor: 1; Barbara Crossette, “Richardson Reflects on His U.N. Days: As U.S. Delegate, His Informality Often Startled His Colleagues,” 8 September 1998, New York Times: A6.

39For Richardson’s recollections as Secretary of Energy, see Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 242–280; Philip Shenon, “Chief U.N. Delegate May Get Energy Post,” 9 May 1998, New York Times: A1; Neil A. Lewis, “Derring-Do at Energy: William Blaine Richardson,” 19 June 1998, New York Times: A26.

40For Richardson’s experiences as a gubernatorial candidate and as governor, see Richardson, Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life: 281–282, 286–350; Michael Janofsky, “A Candidate Tries to Keep His Troubles behind Him,” 10 April 2002, New York Times: A20; Michael Janofsky, “Resume and Message Help Ex- Clinton Official to Victory,” 8 November 2002, New York Times: A26.

41Matthew Wald, “Democratic Governor of New Mexico Joins Race,” 22 January 2007, New York Times: A14; Leslie Wayne, “Richardson Officially Enters ’08 Democratic Presidential Race,” 22 May 2007, New York Times: A18; Jodi Kantor, “Personal Touch for Richardson in Envoy Role,” 21 December 2007, New York Times: A1; Leslie Wayne, “Richardson Is Expected to Drop Out of Primaries,” 10 January 2008, New York Times: A25; Leslie Wayne and Dennis J. Carroll, “Seeing the Good in Everyone,” 11 January 2008, New York Times: A16.

42Bill Richardson, “Biography,” biography (accessed 2 April 2012).

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

University of Oklahoma
The Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive, Department of Communication

Norman, OK
Videocassettes and Sound Tape Reels: 1984-1990, 6 commercials on 4 videocassettes and 11 commercials on 2 sound tape reels. The commercials were used during Bill Richardson's campaigns for the 1984, 1986, and 1990 U.S. congressional elections in District 3 of New Mexico, Democratic Party.

University of Texas at Austin
The Center for American History

Austin, TX
Papers: ca. 1983-1998, amount unknown. The papers of former Congressman Bill Richardson have not been processed and are not yet available to researchers.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Richardson, Bill. "Hispanic American Concerns," Foreign Policy 60 (Autumn, 1985): 30-39.

___., with Michael Ruby. BetweenWorlds: The Making of an American Life. New York: Plume Books, 2007.

___. Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008.

___., with Kevin Bleyer. How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, 2013.

"Bill Richardson" in Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2013.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Commerce
  • House Committee - Education and Labor
  • House Committee - Energy and Commerce
  • House Committee - Interior and Insular Affairs
  • House Committee - Natural Resources
    • Native American Affairs - Chair
  • House Committee - Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  • House Committee - Resources
  • House Committee - Select Committee on Aging
  • House Committee - Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families
  • House Committee - Veterans' Affairs
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