Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a longtime fixture of Democratic politics with turns as Energy Secretary and United Nations ambassador under the Clinton administration, died on Friday, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement said in a statement. He was 75.
He was first elected to the US House in 1983, representing New Mexico’s Third District. Richardson later served as US ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of energy before being elected governor of New Mexico in 2002. He served two terms before leaving office in 2011.
Richardson died in his sleep at his summer home in Massachusetts.
Richardson was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last month in recognition of his work saving Americans, most recently WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport when authorities found hash oil in her luggage. Griner was released last December after being detained for nearly ten months.
Over the last three decades, Richardson traveled the world negotiating and securing the release of Americans detained overseas in Bangladesh, North Korea, Sudan, Colombia, and Iraq. Richardson traveled to danger zones including the Congo, then called Zaire in 1997, and Afghanistan in 1998 to broker peaceful power transfers and met with infamous dictators Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-il respectively.