With Mark Warner, who many picked as their favorite candidate, deciding not to run for President, the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008 begins. And Governor Bill Richardson is positioned to make a strong run.
As I posted back in January, when I wrote "The Case for Bill Richardson":
I’m not going to dwell on it, but another advantage Richardson has is that he is a Governor and not a United States Senator. You can argue until you’re blue in the face, but reality is that in the last 30 years the only 2 Democrats who were elected President were governors. I’m not judging right or wrong, only presenting fact. Senators have extensive voting records that can be picked apart by the best opposition research teams that money can buy. Governors have executive experience that Senators don’t, and though they do create policy, they don’t vote yes or no on the legislation of the day. Granted, Richardson served as Congressman of New Mexico’s 3rd District for 15 years, but that was at least a decade ago, and many of his opponents are current U.S. Senators voting on the current issues that face our nation.
You can't argue with the track record that current/former Democratic U.S. Senators have had in Presidential contests. John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards, and Joe Biden have all lost before, either in the primaries or in the general election. In fact, it's been since 1964 when Lyndon Johnson was re-elected that a Democratic United States Senator won the Presidency. Hillary Clinton hasn't yet run for President, but she is such a polarizing figure that despite her huge war chest, she'll have a hard time winning the general election if she's the nominee. And though Russ Feingold is a favorite among the netroots, he's still a United States Senator and has a lot of work to do to get name recognition. Only Evan Bayh is a former governor, and he's a U.S. Senator too. Based on history, that leaves Bill Richardson as the only viable candidate.
Another reason Governor Richardson is a strong candidate for the Presidency , is that as chair of the DGA he has been spending his time this campaign season traveling across the country doing the hard work necessary to return the majority of governorships to the Democrats. There 2 reasons why this work is necessary and important.
First, it helps return organizational and structural control of the states to the Democrats
. This is important if you look at past Presidential elections. Look to Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Governor Jeb Bush in Florida in 2000, and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Governor Bob Taft in Ohio in 2004, to understand why organizational and structural control is so important.
Second, as Governor Richardson stumps for all of these candidates and raises money for them through the DGA, he's building up good will for his Presidential run. It is very difficult to forget the man who works hard and gives you the financial resource to get you elected to office. And without any organization in the states, it's difficult for any Presidential candidate's campaign to get off the ground.
2000 was the last time New Mexico voted for a Democratic nominee for President was 2000, though Al Gore won the state by a slim margin. In 2004, New Mexico sided with George W. Bush. It's a swing state. Last week I posted about the latest ABQ Journal poll which had Governor Richardson at 60% for his re-election
. At the time, I noted that the interesting thing in the poll was that 35% of the Republicans polled said they'd be supporting Richardson for re-election.
Think about that. In a swing state, a Democratic Governor is looking to pick up 35% of the GOP vote. Now, granted that Richardson's opponent John Dendahl is a right-wing nutjob, but 35% is a large number. With that kind of appeal, it is not difficult to see that Richardson can and will appeal to independents and moderate Republicans in a national, Presidential election. He may not get 35%, but he'll definitely make an impact.
And last but not least, Bill Richardson has a resume that no other candidate has: Congressman, U.N. Ambassador, Secretary of Energy, Governor, he's the whole package. Other than former President Carter, he's the only one to have successfully negotiated with North Korea. He's got extensive foreign policy experience (something so desperately needed by our country right now), having successfully negotiated with the governments of Cuba, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan.
There's a clear choice in 2008, and that choice is Bill Richardson.