Will Richardson be the voice of the West?
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s announcement Monday that he will be a presidential candidate hardly sent shockwaves through the nation, nor in the camps of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
But we hope voters start paying attention to Richardson, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy, if for no other reason than he is at the forefront of issues that affect residents of Nevada and the West.
Richardson’s calm, well-reasoned demeanor during the Democratic presidential forum in Carson City earned him a measure of respect. During his speech Monday, issues of unique importance to the West weren’t at the forefront. Rather, he talked about his support for bringing our troops home, dealing with global warming, health care and the disappearing middle class. Those are the issues on which the election will be won or lost, and he says it’s his record of solving problems diplomatically that sets him apart.
But Richardson, as a border state governor, knows directly the impact of illegal immigration. He’s supportive of a guest worker program, but says available jobs must be first posted for American citizens and legal residents. He wants to double the number of border patrol agents and says a path to legalization should include a fine, background check and payment of back taxes.
He knows the potential the West holds for developing alternative energy sources. He’s seen the devastation caused by wildfires and knows the importance of local control over federal lands.
Now if he can only line up some Hollywood friends, he might be able to compete.