Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dies at 75

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(NEW YORK) — Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also served in Congress and as secretary of the Department of Energy in the Clinton administration, has died, according to the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, the organization founded by Richardson to promote international peace and dialogue. He was 75.

Richardson died at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts, the organization said.

“Governor Richardson passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. He lived his entire life in the service of others – including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Mickey Bergman, vice president of the Richardson Center, said in a statement Saturday.

Richardson began his career as a congressional staffer, before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and running unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1982, he was elected to New Mexico’s newly formed Third Congressional District. Richardson served in the House until 1997 when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He later served as Secretary of Energy from 1998 to 2000.

He was elected governor of New Mexico in 2002. His accomplishments as governor, according to the Richardson Center, included improving the state’s job numbers and boosting economic development by bringing the movie industry to New Mexico, which resulted in more than 140 major film and TV productions. He also built a light-rail system from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and partnered with Virgin Galactic to build a commercial spaceport.

In 2008, he sought the Democratic nomination for president, dropping out after Iowa and New Hampshire.

After serving two terms as governor, Richardson turned his attention to global conflict resolution and prisoner release. The Richardson Center, founded in 2011, is credited with successfully negotiating the release of hostages and political prisoners in North Korea, Colombia, Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.

Richardson was involved with recent efforts to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner and U.S. Marine Trevor Reed.

For his work as a diplomat and prisoner negotiator, Richardson was nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Richardson also co-founded the Foundation to Preserve New Mexico Wildlife with actor Robert Redford.

“I’m sad to hear of former NM Gov Bill Richardson’s passing,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who previously served as a U.S. representative from New Mexico, said in a statement Saturday. “He was a champion for Tribes, elevating Indian Affairs to a cabinet level. He helped me ensure Native students received in-state tuition. He was true friend and one of our country’s valued diplomats.”

Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, and grew up in Mexico City and in Concord, Massachusetts. His parents were of Mexican descent. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and French from Tufts in 1970 and a master’s degree from Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971.

Richardson is survived by his wife, Barbara, and a daughter.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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