Sabato's Crystal Ball

Bill Richardson

Democratic Nominee

UVA Center for Politics January 1st, 2008

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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson could very well represent the changing face of American politics. Hispanics and Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, and both the Democrats and the Republicans will be well served to begin attracting more candidates from these burgeoning populations. Political analysts tend to see corollaries between Richardson’s campaign at the nomination, and that of former President Bill Clinton in 1992: both popular governors of important swing states, both starting off with very low poll numbers before the Iowa caucus, both attractive to minorities. The question for Richardson will be if he can manufacture the same kind of success Clinton found, and if he can do it in time for Iowa. Richardson has also been positioning himself to get on no one’s bad side, possibly in hopes of receiving a vice presidential nomination.

Biography

Born to a Mexican mother, and raised until he was 13 in Mexico City, Richardson has been using his Hispanic background to his advantage: at the Telemundo Spanish language debate, he asked, in Spanish, if he could give his responses in Spanish. He has extensive foreign policy experience, having worked with the Department of State in the 1970s, as well as serving as Ambassador to the U.N. from 1997-98. He was elected to the House of Representatives from New Mexico’s 3rd District in 1982, and served until beginning his ambassadorship in 1997. Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in 2002, and was reelected in 2006.