New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently threw his hat into the ring for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Richardson served 15 years in the House of Representatives before becoming U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and subsequently Energy Secretary under Bill Clinton. He recently began his second term as New Mexico's governor. He was first elected to this post in 2002 and then reelected last November by the widest margin of any gubernatorial candidate in that state's history, garnering 68 percent of the vote. Due to his previous ties to the Clinton Administration, he might be viewed as an acceptable alternative to Hillary Clinton, should her candidacy fizzle out.
Richardson is a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), an association of moderate Democrats, one of which he is well known to be. Being the governor of a state from the Southwest, a Republican-dominated region where Democrats would like to make inroads, could work to his advantage. However, he may have to answer for the fact that New Mexico switched from "blue" to "red" in the 2004 election (Gore carried it in 2000, but Bush took it in 2004).
Governors, in general, tend to do better than senators in their quest for the presidency, especially in recent elections. Four of the last five men to be elected president did so as either sitting governors (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) or former governors (Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan). However, the last sitting senator to be elected president was John F. Kennedy in 1960. In the Democratic field of 2008, Bill Richardson is likely to be one of only two governors (the other is former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack), running against a host of senators. Therefore, although he is not currently considered to be one of his party's top-tier presidential prospects, he should not be thought of as a long shot either. Indeed, he could be the dark horse among the Democrats.