New Mexico lawmakers respond to the death of Bill Richardson

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico lawmakers released the following statements after the passing of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Richardson died in his sleep Friday night at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts. He was 75.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

“New Mexico, our country, and, frankly, the entire world lost a champion today. Bill Richardson was a titan among us, fighting for the little guy, world peace, and everything in between.  

He was a visionary who saw the potential of our great state before so many others did. He saw us taking on Hollywood and reaching for the stars, launching both the film and space industries that continue to reap significant economic benefits today. His reputation preceded him around the globe: Bill Richardson is someone who gets things done.  

For my own part, Bill was a mentor and advisor who was instrumental in my own journey into elected office. He was a steadfast friend who celebrated my successes, and someone I could turn to in those moments when leading is particularly challenging. 

I am immeasurably grateful to have known such a giant among men. 

I offer my most sincere condolences to his wife, Barbara, his family, friends and all those who had the honor of working with him over the years to make our world a better place for all.”  

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

“Governor Bill Richardson believed New Mexico could do big things. His ambition for our state meant he never accepted mediocrity, and always pushed us to fight for the future we deserved. I was privileged to serve in his administration and will forever be grateful for all that he taught me. Governor Richardson’s legacy will have a lasting impact on the United States and the world, as it already has had on me and so many others. Julie and I have the Richardson family in our thoughts.”

In 2006, Governor Bill Richardson appointed Heinrich to serve in his administration as Natural Resources Trustee, a position Heinrich held until his election to the United States House of Representatives in 2008.

Last month, Senators Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján nominated Governor Richardson for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize to honor his work and dedication to the safe return of political prisoners and hostages around the world.

U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján

“Governor Richardson was a giant in public service and government — serving as a Member of Congress, United Nations Ambassador, Cabinet Secretary, and Governor. In his post-government career, he was trusted to handle some of the most sensitive diplomatic crises, and he did so with great success. Here in New Mexico, we will always remember him as our Governor. He never stopped fighting for the state he called home. 

Governor Richardson was a close friend who held the same House seat that I was elected to. He knew how to get things done, and he worked closely with my late father in the Legislature. 

His passing is incredibly heartbreaking for so many New Mexicans who knew and respected him. He leaves behind a legacy that will never be matched, and one that New Mexicans will always take pride in. My prayers are with Barbara, the Richardson family, and all New Mexicans. His memory will always be a blessing.”

Democratic Party of New Mexico

“It is a sad day for New Mexico Democrats as we remember the life and mourn the passing of Governor Bill Richardson. Governor Richardson was a larger-than-life public figure who always put public service first. As a Congressman, Ambassador, Secretary of Energy, Diplomat, and Governor, he had many roles throughout his legendary career as a statesman, but we will always remember him foremost as someone who was always eager to help people and loved New Mexico. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone who knew him at this time.”

Speaker of the House Javier Martínez

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Governor Richardson – a lifelong public servant and political giant. Throughout his long career he made a tremendous impact – not only here in New Mexico as our Congressman and Governor, but nationally as a Cabinet Secretary, and internationally, as a champion for the rights of those unjustly detained abroad. 

Governor Richardson was a fierce advocate for New Mexico’s working families and for democracy, human rights, and free speech worldwide. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of service and diplomacy. 

My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Barbara and the entire Richardson family during this difficult time. Vaya con Dios, amigo.”

Rep. Melanie Stansbury

“Governor Bill Richardson has left an indelible mark on New Mexico politics and public service. Throughout his career as Governor, Member of Congress, UN Ambassador, Secretary of Energy, and in international diplomacy—he lived and loved big, mentored a generation of leaders, and served our great state and nation.

I first met Governor Richardson as a young person when he was my Congressman—and like so many others, was catalyzed into a path of public service on behalf of our state.

Governor Richardson’s loss will be felt across the planet.  My prayers go out to his family and all who are remembering and grieving his loss and this giant in New Mexico politics.”

Rep. Gabe Vasquez

“Governor Bill Richardson was a titan in New Mexico and abroad. Richardson dedicated more than 30 years of his life to public service as a Congressman, Ambassador, Governor and U.S. Secretary of Energy. Just this week, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work solving some of the most difficult hostage negotiations in American History.

I mourn the passing of this New Mexico legend, one of the most powerful Hispanics in politics that this national has seen. Today, we reflect on his decades of service and for always proudly representing New Mexico.”

Mayor Tim Keller

“Bill was a giant in New Mexico modern history and lead our state into the national and international leadership spotlight like no one else before.

From the Rail Runner, to the Spaceport, to green chile diplomacy, to hostage releases; his leadership carried us to and from D.C. and across the globe.  

From Congress to his cabinet posts, to Governor, to his Presidential run, he had a rare combination in public service—the ability to push a bold vision and powerful negotiating skills for making things happen. 

What many may not have seen was also how much he developed those around him. He hired really good people, and took risks on young folks in leadership roles, and he loved every day of public life. The ups and the downs and big issues and small, he loved La Politica and all its players. 

As a young collage kid, I flew home once on the same plane as him, and his greeting at the airport was almost of sports celebrity, mix of local hero and family coming home. Later in my career as State Senator, I had the fortune to talk international affairs on slow legislative days, then tussle with him often over governance reform bills the next.  

Always, even though we disagreed at times, he taught me the valuable lesson of compromise, making a deal to move the ball forward. It’s something I appreciate and remember to this day.  

From the countries he worked in, the lives he changed and brought home to their families, to millions of Americans who got to know him, to us in New Mexico, we will miss Bill deeply. We are keeping his family in our prayers during this time.”

Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman

“Bill Richardson was not only a leader, but an amazing friend.  My wife Jackie and I were shocked and saddened to hear of his passing this morning.

He was a great humanitarian who did so much for the State of New Mexico, for this country and people throughout the world.  Just last week, he was nominated for another Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a global crisis negotiator. Bill Richardson was a lifelong public servant.

He never stopped working.  He was full of energy, wit and humor. 

On a personal note, I will miss his friendship.  We frequently traveled together to baseball games to watch the Houston Astros take on the Red Sox.  There was plenty of banter and laughter on those trips. 

Those are great memories Jackie and I will treasure forever. 

You will be missed, my friend.”

Spaceport America officials

“Governor Richardson’s belief in the future of New Mexico is reflected in Spaceport America’s journey in developing technologies, companies, and economic opportunity for the citizens of our state and all mankind.

During his time in office, Governor Richardson had a vital and profound impact on the creation of the spaceport. It can well be argued that the spaceport would not exist without his vision, passion, belief in the potential of New Mexico, and the tireless work he put in to make it a reality. He will be greatly missed.”

President Clinton and Secretary Clinton

“Hilary and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Governor Bill Richardson, a devoted public servant and skilled diplomat whose career improved countless lives in New Mexico, across America, and around the world.

From his years in Congress, to his service in my Administration as Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy, to his two terms as Governor, to his efforts with the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, Bill worked tirelessly for the causes of freedom, fairness, and opportunity.

His innate diplomatic skills made him a success at the U.N., and his roots in the West, and his experience, helped him succeed as Secretary of Energy.

Whether in an official capacity, he was a masterful and persistent negotiator who helped make our world more secure and won the release of many individuals held unjustly abroad. He was also a trailblazer whose career helped pave the path for other Latino Americans to serve at the highest levels of American government.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity to know and work closely with him. His legacy will endure with all the people who are better off today because of his outstanding service. My thoughts and prayers are with Barbara, his family, and everyone who loved him.”

President Joe Biden

“Bill Richardson wore many weighty titles in his life – Congressman, Governor, Ambassador, Secretary. He seized every chance to serve and met every new challenge with joy, determined to do the most good for his country, his beloved New Mexico, and Americans around the world. Few have served our nation in as many capacities or with as much relentlessness, creativity, and good cheer. He will be deeply missed.
Bill’s legacy will endure in many places – in New Mexico, which Bill served for seven terms as congressman and two as governor; at the Department of Energy, where he helped strengthen America’s nuclear security; and at the United Nations, where he put his considerable negotiating skills to work advocating for American interests and values on the world stage.
But perhaps his most lasting legacy will be the work Bill did to free Americans held in some of the most dangerous places on Earth. American pilots captured by North Korea, American workers held by Saddam Hussein, Red Cross workers imprisoned by Sudanese rebels – these are just some of the dozens of people that Bill helped bring home. He’d meet with anyone, fly anywhere, do whatever it took. The multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations he received are a testament to his ceaseless pursuit of freedom for Americans. So is the profound gratitude that countless families feel today for the former governor who helped reunite them with their loved ones.
Bill and I crossed paths for the first time decades ago, when he was a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which I served on as Senator. Over the years, I saw firsthand his passion for politics, love for America, and unflagging belief that, with respect and good faith, people can come together across any difference, no matter how vast. He was a patriot and true original, and will not be forgotten. Jill and I send our love to his family, including his wife of over 50 years, Barbara, and their daughter Heather.”