NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Bill Richardson, a two-term governor of New Mexico and a longtime fixture in Democratic politics, has died at the age of 75.

The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, a foundation started by Richardson in 2011, confirmed the news of his death, saying he died in his sleep on Friday night, at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts.

“He lived his entire life in the service of others — including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Mickey Bergman, the vice president of the Richardson Center, said of Richardson’s accomplishments and work with the foundation.

Richardson was elected as New Mexico’s 30th governor in 2003, holding the office through 2011. Prior to his role as the state’s chief executive, Richardson served as a federal lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1983 through February 1997, representing Northern New Mexico in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, seen here in 2022, died peacefully in his sleep, according to a statement from his foundation. (KRQE)

Following his stint in Congress, Richardson later went on to serve as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton. He then headed up the U.S. Department of Energy between 1998 and 2001 through the end of Clinton’s second term.

Richardson’s political career continued beyond his last publicly elected role as New Mexico’s governor. Since 2011, the Democrat has worked with the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, often focusing on prisoner and hostage release negotiations outside of the United States. Most recently, Richardson was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

In a statement provided by the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, Bergman said Richardson was “a champion for those held unjustly abroad.”

A cause of death has yet to be released.

“Right now our focus is on supporting his family, including his wife Barbara of over 50 years, who was with him when he passed,” Bergman said. “We will share further information as it becomes available.”