News emerged over the weekend that former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, died at age 75, as the Daily Caller reports.
Richardson's passing was confirmed by his namesake Richardson Center for Global Engagement, which issued a statement noting that the longtime statesman passed away in his sleep at home in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Long and varied career remembered
As the New York Post explained, Richardson's earlier career included not just service as ambassador to the U.N., but also 14 years as a congressman and time spent as Energy secretary under President Bill Clinton.
Elected governor of New Mexico in 2002, the Democrat served the state' as its chief executive for two terms.
Thereafter, Richardson worked as a sort of unofficial diplomatic force to be reckoned with, working toward securing the release of hostages as well as U.S. servicemen taken into custody in hostile parts of the world including Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan in a role he jocularly dubbed “the informal undersecretary for thugs.”
Though Richardson sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire during the primary period prompted him to abandon his hopes of becoming the first Hispanic president in the nation's history.
Tributes pour in
Mickey Bergman, the Richardson Center's vice president, paid tribute to the former governor in the statement announcing his death.
Speaking of Richardson's life's work, Bergman said, “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.”
“There was no person that Governor Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom. The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad, and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend,” Bergman added.
As ESPN.com noted, one of Richardson's last diplomatic accomplishments centered around the December release of WBNA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison.
Richardson, together with Bergman, made numerous trips to engage in backchannel negotiations with Russian contacts, ultimately securing Griner's freedom.
Though Richarson's career was not without its controversies – he previously faced allegations of involvement in a pay-to-pay culture during his gubernatorial tenure – it is clear that in the end, he will largely be remembered for his years of public service and the successful diplomatic overtures that brought him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination just last month.