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Richardson projected to win N.M. governor race

Richardson served as energy secretary and U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration.
Richardson served as energy secretary and U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration.

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SANTA FE, New Mexico (CNN) -- Bill Richardson, a former United Nations ambassador and energy secretary under former President Bill Clinton, defeated his Republican opponent, state Rep. John Sanchez in the open race for governor of New Mexico, CNN projects.

Richardson had a double-digit lead on Sanchez heading into the election Tuesday.

Richardson represented New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives for 14 years before being appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1997. He was tapped the following year as energy secretary and was mentioned as a possible running mate for then-Vice President Al Gore.

Both Richardson and Sanchez are Hispanic in a state in which more than 40 percent of the population is Hispanic. Although New Mexico has had Hispanic governors before, this year's gubernatorial race marked the first in recent memory to pit two Hispanic candidates against each other.

Two-term Republican Gov. Gary Johnson was barred from seeking re-election because of term limits.



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