Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr Biography » Bill Richardson: 1947—: Politician Biography - Gave Up Baseball For Political Science, Began Career In Politics, Won Congressional Seat, Had Long Career In Congress

Bill Richardson: 1947—: Politician - Won Congressional Seat

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During the 1980 campaign Richardson worked tirelessly and quickly became known for his campaigning energy. His goal was to not let a day pass without shaking at least 1,000 hands, and he briefly held a spot in the Guinness Book of Record for shaking 8,871 hands in a single day. Richardson spent more than $200,000 on his campaign—much more than Lujan. Nonetheless, Lujan held on to win the election by just 5,000 votes (out of 250,000 votes cast). Despite the loss, Richardson's good showing made him the darling of the Democratic party in New Mexico.


When a new district was created in northern New Mexico the following year, Richardson moved to Santa Fe and was quickly pegged as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. The new third congressional district covered a vast amount of territory and was one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation—40 percent Hispanic, 40 percent Anglo, and 20 percent Native American. There were 28 sovereign Native American nations within the district's borders. Richardson traveled throughout the district, visiting every small town and pueblo, speaking both English and Spanish along way.


Richardson struggled through the primary in 1982. He received negative media attention after being forced to retract a statement in his campaign literature that claimed he spent three years working as Humphrey's top foreign affairs aide during his time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. In fact, Richardson had served on a subcommittee rather than the full committee and never held a leadership position. More bad press was generated when the Federal Election Commission looked into the source of a $100,000 campaign loan. The investigation revealed that Rich-ardson's mother, still living in Mexico City, had helped Richardson obtain a certificate of deposit. Although cleared of any wrongdoing, the incident brought to light Richardson's privileged background. Despite his missteps, Richardson won the primary with 36 percent of the vote, and his continuous glad-handing earned him a relatively easy victory over Republican Marjorie Bell Chambers. Richardson remained in Congress for the next 14 years, winning every bid for reelection by more than 60 percent of the vote.


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