In response to his own question, Weigel writes that
Richardson isn’t driven by libertarian principles. He’s simply a realist: more impressed by markets, and less impressed by central planning, than any other Democrat in the race.By his own account, Richardson is a "market-oriented Democrat” -- a distinction that sets him apart from his party's other presidential hopefuls. His libertarian streak also aligns him firmly with foundational philosophy of Mountain West and Pacific coast voters.
While Richardson is not a dogmatic politician, Weigel notes that in 2005 the libertarian Cato Institute gave Richardson a B on its biennial gubernatorial Fiscal Policy Report Card—a higher grade than those given to Florida’s Jeb Bush and Massachusetts’ Mitt Romney.
Richardson's run as a market Democrat is an odd strategy for winning the Democratic party's presidential nomination, but it may be brilliant if the goal is the VP slot under a nominee that's a Northeast liberal.