Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson dies at 75

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D)
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and United Nations ambassador known for his humanitarianism, has died at the age of 75.

Richardson "passed away peacefully in his sleep" at his home in Chatham, Massachusetts, Mickey Bergman, vice president of the ex-governor's Richardson Center for Global Engagement, said in a statement on Saturday. No cause of death was revealed.

A Democratic Party mainstay for decades, Richardson began his political career as a congressman from New Mexico. He became known on the global stage in 1997, when he was tapped by former President Bill Clinton to be the American ambassador to the United Nations. Richardson served as ambassador for 18 months before becoming energy secretary, a role he would continue until the end of the Clinton era.

Richardson reached the top of his political career a few years later, when he was elected governor of New Mexico in 2003, a position he would hold until 2011. He was tapped in 2008 by then-President-elect Barack Obama to serve as commerce secretary, but withdrew his nomination after a controversy over business dealings in New Mexico.

Richardson's career was also marked by numerous humanitarian efforts to rescue Americans who were detained abroad. Over the past 30 years, Richardson "traveled the world negotiating and securing the release of Americans imprisoned overseas in Bangladesh, North Korea, Sudan, Colombia and Iraq," NBC News reported. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize days before his death.

Richardson "worked tirelessly for the causes of freedom, fairness and opportunity," and was "a masterful and persistent negotiator who helped make our world more secure," Clinton said in a statement. President Biden also released a statement saying Richardson was "determined to do the most good for his country, his beloved New Mexico and Americans around the world."

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