From NBC's Mark Murray
Even though political analysts are predicting the same outcome, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) told a group of Washington political reporters this morning that Democrats will hold control of a majority of governorships after the November elections (Republicans currently have a 28-22 edge). Although such a feat is largely symbolic, Richardson, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, said it would be "a barometer of a political sea change" taking place in the country. And he suggested it could usher in a host of policy changes in the states. "While the Congress is locked in gridlock ... the states are incubators for change."
Richardson added, "Voters are seeing governors as the real architects of fiscal responsibility" -- which was somewhat of a self-serving statement given that he is expected to run for president in 2008, and will obviously tout that kind of message in a White House bid. Asked about his presidential ambitions, Richardson replied, "I will make a decision early next year." Also asked about the possibility of competing against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, he said, "My view is that the party needs a spirited primary. I think we need a debate about the heart and soul of the party."
In addition, he touched on several of today's hottest political issues. On immigration, Richardson -- who is Latino -- said it's an important issue, and that he supports an earned path towards citizenship for illegal immigrants. But he thinks its political effect will be a wash on this year's elections. "I'm not sure you gain any additional voters" -- whether you support citizenship or not. On Iraq, he said that the war will be largely responsible for Democrats for picking up an additional 2% of the vote over Republicans in the midterms, and he advocates a timetable for withdrawal. Moreover, he said he supported Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean's controversial 50-state strategy (in which the DNC is spending money rebuilding state parties, rather than on key races this year). "I'm on Dean's side," he stated. "The Democratic Party has to rebuild itself from the ground up. It can't rebuild itself from Washington on down."