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Bill Richardson Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico.


Birth date: November 15, 1947

Birth place: Pasadena, California

Birth name: William Blaine Richardson III

Father: William Blaine Richardson Jr., executive with Citibank

Mother: Maria Luisa (Lopez-Collada) Richardson

Marriage: Barbara (Flavin) Richardson (1972-present)

Education: Tufts University, B.A., 1970; Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, M.A., 1971

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts

Grew up in Mexico City, Mexico, until 1960, when he left to attend boarding school in Massachusetts.

Has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.

Has helped negotiate the release of hostages, American troops, and political prisoners in North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Myanmar and Iraq.


1971-1973 – Aide to US House Representative Frank Bradford Morse (R-Massachusetts).

1974-1976 – US State Department staff member.

1976-1978 – Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member.

1978-1982 – President of Richardson Trade Group, a consulting business.

1980 – Runs unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives, losing narrowly to incumbent Manuel Lujan Jr.

January 3, 1983-February 13, 1997 – Democratic congressman in the US House of Representatives for New Mexico’s Third District.

1997-1998 – US ambassador to the United Nations.

1998-2001 – US secretary of energy.

November 5, 2002 – Elected governor of New Mexico.

January 1, 2003-January 1, 2011 – Governor of New Mexico.

2004 – Chairman of the Democratic National Convention.

2005 and 2006 – Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

November 2005 – Richardson’s memoir “Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life” is published.

November 7, 2006 – Reelected governor of New Mexico, defeating Republican John Dendahl.

January 22, 2007 – Files a statement of candidacy with the FEC to run for president.

April 2007 – Spends four days in North Korea securing the remains of six US troops missing since the Korean War.

May 21, 2007 – Officially announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

January 10, 2008 – Drops out of the 2008 presidential race.

August 28, 2008 – Addresses the Democratic National Convention.

December 3, 2008 – President-elect Barack Obama names Richardson as his choice for secretary of commerce.

January 4, 2009 – Announces that he is withdrawing his nomination as secretary of commerce, citing a pending federal investigation.

December 16, 2010 – Arrives in North Korea for a four-day visit to help ease tensions in the region.

2011 – Establishes the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, a non-profit promoting international peace.

January 2011 – Richardson is named Special Envoy for the Organization of American States.

September 7-14, 2011 – Richardson visits Cuba on a private mission to win the release of jailed American contractor Alan Gross. He is unsuccessful.

October 2013 – Richardson’s book “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator” is published.

January 7-10, 2013 – Richardson travels to North Korea with the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, on what is described as a humanitarian mission.

March 15, 2016 – At the request of Ohio Governor John Kasich, Richardson meets with two North Korean diplomats in New York to lobby for the release of detained American Otto Warmbier.

January 24, 2018 – Resigns from the Advisory Board on Rakhine State, an international board tasked with addressing the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. In a scathing statement, Richardson accuses Aung San Suu Kyi — Myanmar’s de facto leader, who he’s known for decades — of lacking “moral leadership.”

November 2, 2021 – During a personal humanitarian mission, meets with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Later, in response to criticism that he lent credibility to the military-installed government, Richardson tells the New York Times that he was focused on discussing delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, medical supplies and other public health needs to the people of Myanmar.

November 15, 2021 – After negotiations with Myanmar’s military junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, Richardson announces the release of American journalist Danny Fenster. Fenster’s release comes after five months in custody, and just days after the former managing editor of Frontier Myanmar — an independent news outlet that covers current affairs, business and politics — was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a military court in Myanmar.

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