Sunday, May 22, 2005

Candidate Profile Nineteen: Bill Richardson

Every four years, for as long as I remember, the same ritual has taken place on the Democratic side; someone, somewhere, mentions Bill Richardson as a possible Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate. This election cycle will be no different. I think it's quite telling that (1) this Yahoo group already exists, and (2) it has 13 members. Why is this man a perennial candidate, and why does he always come up short?

William Blaine Richardson - official bio page

Resume - Governor of New Mexico; former Ambassador to the U.N.; former Secretary of Energy; former U.S. House Representative, 3rd Congressional District, New Mexico; chairman of the 2004 Democratic Convention; chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association

Richardson is an insider, to be sure, and certainly has a deep resume. He also would have some appeal to the growing segment of Hispanic voters, as his mother was Mexican. So why does there seem to be so little enthusiasm for him?
  1. The 'been there, done that' problem. If a person has been on the national stage and mentioned as presidential or vice-presidential material too many times without actually making a serious run, that person tends to lose some measure of credibility (see Sharpton, Al). It's as if the big donors ask themselves what would be different this time than all of the times before.
  2. The Imperial Governor. This Wikipedia article (not always a great source, by the way - but that's a story for another time) indicates that some locals see Richardson as a bit too fond of perks and too impatient with the process of governing.
  3. The rumors. If you look in the comments of some of these links, you'll find another possible reason a Richardson candidacy has never gone anywhere. There are vague, unsubstantiated rumors (and I stress the word 'rumors') that Richardson is a bit of a party boy who has the wandering eye. Most Democratic presidential aspirants strive to be Clintonesque, but not, I believe, in this way.
Still, it appears that he is making the run, perhaps with an eye towards becoming Hillary's running mate. No doubt he has made some excellent contacts with insiders and donors, and he could definitely help a Northern candidate like Hillary.

Or could he? Many observers, this one included, tend to think the idea of a Vice President 'delivering' a state is pretty far-fetched. Perhaps there was a time when that was so, but now, it seems people are focused on the top line of the ballot. I don't think Lieberman or Edwards contributed much in the way of votes in their home states, or elsewhere, to their respective tickets.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Richardson is surface appeal. The guy just doesn't seem to stoke much fire in the belly. Say what you want about the Deaniacs (and I'll join you), but at least they were demonstrably enthusiastic. It's hard to imagine Richardson bringing along many people with anything approaching that level of intensity. Then again, in 2004, the Democrats nominated John Kerry, so I guess anything is possible.


UPDATE 07/04/05 10:59 p.m. central:
The slightest of drops...why? Because I feel like it...


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