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    January 21, 2007

    Another Bill better than Hillary?

    Posted by: Chris

    Billrichardson One day after Hillary Clinton announced she's "in," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson threw his hat in the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.  If nothing else, having Richardson in the race takes the "experience" arrow out of Hillary's would-be arsenal against freshman Sen. Barack Obama. Richardson's deep resume — which includes "doing" as well as talking — makes the rest of the field, including especially Hillary and John Edwards, look like rookies.

    Richardson has 15 years in Congress, served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of energy in the (Bill) Clinton administration, and was elected in a landslide to a second term as governor of New Mexico.  In addition, Richardson is Latino, bilingual and has proven amazingly adept at difficult international negotiation where others before him failed.

    That negotiation savvy shouldn't be underestimated.  Look what it's done for him on the difficult issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples.  Richardson opposes gay marriage, but when the New Mexico legislature began pushing a "Defense of Marriage Act" in 2005, Richardson said he would veto it unless the DOMA was enacted alongside civil union legislation.  Richardson's position wasn't just expedient, it was fairly principled and would satisfy any but those with a gay marriage litmus test. The DOMA effort failed.

    What's more, you don't get better than Richardson on gay issues, and again he's not just talking the talk; he's walked the walk.  In his first term as governor, he led the state from nowhere to being ranked among the best in the nation on gay rights protections:

    • He signed legislation expanding New Mexico civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. (At the time, only three other states had included transgender protections.)
    • He signed a hate crimes law that included actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
    • He signed an executive order in 2003 extending health insurance and other benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of N.M. state employees.
    • He's on record backing full-fledged civil unions and (unlike John Kerry) opposes state-level constitutional amendments banning gays from marrying.
    • While in Congress, Richardson backed military service for out gay men and lesbians.  That means, unlike Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary and the rest, he was anti-Don't Ask, Don't Tell when it was very uncool to be.

    Richardson's record isn't unblemished.  He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and I couldn't find any statement since recanting that support.  Even with such an impressive record on other gay issues, Richardson will need to explain his position on DOMA to gay Democrats.  At the very least, he should renounce the portion of DOMA that bans federal recognition of marriage licenses issued to gay couples, and he should back full federal recognition of state-issued civil unions.  Given his support for civil unions, that seems likely.

    Richardson's resume and savvy at negotiation, which requires bringing people together rather than wedging them, makes him an experienced politician who can legitimately claim to being "a uniter and not a divider."  With a bit of massaging on DOMA and federal civil unions, he may well be the best bet for gays in 2008.



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    1. Bill Richardson on gay rights from Freedom Democrats on Mar 20, 2007 12:00:45 AM

      An overview of the policy preferences of Presidential candidates listed Bill Richardson as not supporting same-sex marriage. This caught my attention, and I wanted to look into Richardson's relationship with the gay community. I was happy with what I foun [Read More]


    1. Alan on Jan 21, 2007 12:56:51 PM:

      I agree that Richardson seems like an excellent candidate and I am definitely open to voting for him.

      I have, though, read on other blogs that he has some kind of personal baggage which will make him some special interest group's special target.

    1. Tim C on Jan 21, 2007 2:04:33 PM:

      Hmmm, this could be good. I've been saying that the Dems need to field a strong governor if they hope to capture the WH in '08. Their current front-running stable of Obama, Clinton, and Edwards has disadvantages in spades, ranging from being untested in big campaigns to Clinton fatigue. I'm still hoping Mark Warner of VA will reconsider but Richardson is worth a close look.

    1. Andoni on Jan 21, 2007 7:49:00 PM:

      Thanks for the educational blog on Bill Richardson. I really didn’t know that much about him.

      I’ve always thought the best strategy on DOMA from the very beginning when it was tested at the state level in Georgia before it went to DC was effectively what Richardson said even though I hadn’t heard of his stance. Give them DOMA, but insist on civil unions with all the state and federal rights that married people get. That separates (or divides) those who actually hate gays and insist on us getting nothing from those more open minded folks who simply want to protect the word marriage. No one, including HRC, ever liked my plan.

      Another good point about Richardson is that if the Dems are going to win the presidency in 08, they have to pick up one more RED state. The Dems keep carrying the same BLUE states over and over and will probably carry them again in 08 no matter who they run. What they need is someone who can pick up some RED states, like New Mexico. If Richardson’s popularity is that good there, that pick up will mean the ball game.

      Also, as a bonus, the Rocky Mountain States are starting to swing BLUE and a guy like Richardson might be able to start an avalanche in that region to bring some more states along so the 2008 race is actually a blowout for the Dems.

      You just can’t keep putting up the same old candidates who appeal to the same old constituencies and regions of the country and hope this time one more state goes for your guy. You have to start thinking differently.

      Thanks, Chris.

    1. Tim C on Jan 22, 2007 9:16:28 AM:

      After watching the news this weekend with plenty of footage of Bill Richardson, I would like to put this question out for discussion: can a fat man be elected President? It hasn't happened since, I don't know, William Howard Taft. Find a fat President after 1900. Yes, Americans are getting fatter and fatter, but we don't want to see it in front of us. Fat movie starts other than Nathan Lane? Any fat leading politicians? Any fat anyone in the public view? While I think I like Richardson, can we put a double chin in the White House?

    1. raj on Jan 24, 2007 2:18:58 PM:

      I'd vote for Richardson, certainly over any of the other likely Democrat candidates, and certainly over any of the liley Republican candidates. Richardson's previous stances aren't perfect, but they are far and away better than any of the other likely Democrat candidates.

      And I couldn't imagine any of the possible Republican candidates being anything like acceptible. No, not even Rudi Giuliani, not after what his police department did to Abner Louima (sodomized with a broomstick handle) and Abner Louima (murdered) with virtually no peep from Rudi suggesting that they did wrong. Let's understand something: Rudi wouldn't be taken seriously were it not for 9/11, but for those of us of the reality based community, that's not enough. As far as I'm concerned, Rudi is about as interested in civil liberties as our current Resident in Chief.

    1. Andoni on Jan 24, 2007 5:08:23 PM:

      Good point, raj. When Rudi was mayor of New York, the ACLU had to sue him something like 28 times for violating civil liberties. Rudi lost 25 times. He really doesn't respect civil liberties.

    1. Tim on Jan 27, 2007 11:05:51 AM:

      I'm still going for Rudy, though If Richardson got close he'd be the only democrat I'd consider. At least he has experience in actually running something and doing it well. Edwards, Hillary, Obama don't have a single day of leading people under their belt, I don't think we need that kind of president right now.

    1. Andoni on Jan 27, 2007 3:54:22 PM:


      I just spoke with a gay friend who was a constituent of Congressman Bill Richardson in New Mexico about 15 years ago. He has very positive things to say about Richardson with respect to his LGBT positions.

      My friend recalls a time when Congressman Richardson was quite ignorant of LGBT issues and did not support our legislation. The turning point was a town meeting where Congressman Richardson was confronted by a large number of gay constituents who challenged his stands. To his credit Richardson agreed to meet with these gay constituents at a later time to learn more about the issues.

      The meeting took place as promised and Richardson “got it.” He listened to the stories about the lives of his gay constituents and realized that all we LGBT people really want is equality and nothing more.

      From that day forth Bill Richardson has supported our issues. Even if he can’t quite support same sex marriage, he did help block the anti same sex marriage amendment in New Mexico last year and insisted that any amendment excluding us from marriage be accompanied by civil union rights with all the benefits of marriage.

      I think this presidential candidate deserves to be on the short list of people we support.

    1. Dave Burdick on Feb 22, 2007 12:54:45 PM:

      Thanks for the analysis. Well-written. I'm a Westerner very interested in Richardson. I wonder if you could point me to your sources on this threatened veto (DOMA).

    1. Alan down in Florida on Feb 24, 2007 1:58:56 PM:

      Audio from (I think) has surfaced in which Mr. Richardson proudly supports his yes vote on DOMA in Congress. This is creating some smoke around his formerly clear candidacy.

    1. Generic Viagra Online on Jun 21, 2010 2:18:33 AM:

      Good point, raj. When Rudi was mayor of New York, the ACLU had to sue him something like 28 times for violating civil liberties.

    1. buy generic viagra on Jul 6, 2010 2:33:51 AM:

      Hey I'm still going for Rudy, though If Richardson got close he'd be the only democrat I'd consider. At least he has experience in actually running something and doing it well.

      Thanks and Regards,
      James, NY

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