To Be Used On State Business, Presidential Campaign
ANN 04.01.07 SPECIAL
EDITION: Bowing to increasing political pressure from
voters, New Mexico Governor -- and aspiring presidential candidate
-- Bill Richardson announced last week he would agree to give up
the Cessna Citation Bravo business jet purchased at considerable
expense by the state two years ago, in exchange for five Eclipse
"The Governor feels the time is right to convey a friendlier,
folksier, more accessible image," Richardson spokesman Phil Nunez
told ANN, "even at the airports he visits on both official state
business -- such as recent junkets to Nevada and New York -- and
throughout his probable run at the presidency of the United States.
A smaller, more personable aircraft ties into this image quite
Richardson's purchase of the $5.5 million Citation in June 2005
caused some ire from the Republican minority in the largely
Democratic state, as well as some snickers from voters at the
extravagant purchase. Critics pointed to a trip the Governor took
on the plane from the capital of Santa Fe to nearby Los Alamos as
an example of the Governor's largesse.
"With the Eclipse jets, it will now take Governor Richardson
approximately 25 minutes to fly from Santa Fe to Los Alamos,
instead of the 18 minutes it took the Governor in the Bravo," Nunez
said. "The Governor feels this is an acceptable trade-off,
considering to drive the 30 miles separating the two cities would
take almost 40 minutes in his Lincoln SUV -- or less than half that
if the Governor is in a real hurry."
The fact the Eclipse jets are manufactured in Albuquerque, the
largest city in the state, also played into the purchase
"The Governor is highly supportive of New Mexico businesses,
industry, and of course the people of the Land of Enchantment,"
Nunez said. "While it's true the governor is often not actually in
the state, he hears everything is just amazing. Really."
Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn said he was honored by
Richardson's selection of the Eclipse 500.
"We're working out the details of the deal," Raburn said. "The
governor has asked that one jet -- evidently for his personal use
-- have its cabin outfitted with a velvet painting of the
then-Congressman's 1995 meeting with former Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein. We're not quite sure how to incorporate that into
the Cayenne trim package just yet."
Nunez said the Richardson Eclipses -- which will sport
sequential N-numbers ending in 'BR' -- will travel in
convoy-fashion, transporting staff members as needed, dependent on
the exact mission.
"We believe the Richardson Air Force -- please call it that,
would you? -- will make its presence known throughout the state of
New Mexico, and throughout the country," Nunez said.