William Blaine Richardson III (born November 15, 1947) is an American politician, author, and diplomat. A member of the Democratic Party, he notably represented New Mexico's 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1997, served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1997 to 1998, as U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1998 to 2001, and as Governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011.
Born in Pasadena, California, Richardson was brought up in the borough of Coyoacân in Mexico City, attending school in Mexico City before being sent to the United States to attend Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. Richardson later entered Tufts University, majoring in French and political science; he went on to earn a master's degree in international affairs from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. After college, Richardson worked for Republican Congressman F. Bradford Morse from Massachusetts. He was later a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Richardson worked on congressional relations for the Henry Kissinger State Department during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
In 1978, Richardson moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, opening opened a consulting firm, teaching politics and government in Santa Fe, and preparing himself to run against six-term incumbent Manuel Luján, Jr., in New Mexico’s First Congressional District in 1980, narrowly losing. In 1982, Richardson ran in the newly created Third District, winning the Democratic primary with a decisive plurality and the general election with nearly two-thirds of the vote. According to a popular political study, Richardson maintained a liberal voting record, with few exceptions. He tended to vote pro-business, especially on issues that affected his oil and gas constituencies in New Mexico. He also advocated for pro-business enterprise zones, especially between the United States and Latin American countries. Richardson served as a chief deputy whip for the House Democrats and an unofficial diplomatic envoy. As chief deputy whip in the 103rd Congress (1991–1993), Richardson helped maintain party discipline and count and round up votes to promote the agenda of House leadership.
In 1997 President Clinton nominated Richardson to serve as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. After a successful confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, Richardson resigned from the House on February 13, 1997. In June 1998, President Clinton nominated Richardson to serve as Secretary of Energy. Confirmed in August 1998, Richardson served in that capacity for the remainder of President Clinton’s second term. Richardson later worked in the private sector while preparing for a gubernatorial run in New Mexico. Elected governor in 2002, he served for two terms (2003–2011). In 2007 Richardson announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for U.S. President in the 2008 election, but he dropped out of the race in January 2008. Richardson currently serves as chairman of Global Political Strategies, an international business consulting firm.