New Mexico governor Bill Richardson visited Las Cruces Thursday, less than a week before voters there go to the polls to vote on a tax to help fund development of Spaceport America, and his message was blunt: if voters don’t approve the tax, the spaceport won’t be built. “It’s dead,” Richard said if Tuesday’s referendum is defeated. “We’ll lose it to another state, to California, to Texas.” That doesn’t seem likely in the near term, at least, given the lack of state-led efforts to develop new spaceports, or support existing spaceports, in either state. One could see scenarios, though, where Virgin Galactic would extend their stay in Mojave and perhaps build up some infrastructure there if the New Mexico spaceport fell through while looking for options in other states. The Las Cruces Sun-News also has the text of Richardson’s comments about the spaceport, including a comment that he’s “been sending letters and making phone calls to voters” about the vote.
Rick Homans, the secretary of economic development for the state, didn’t endorse the governor’s doomsday scenario if the referendum failed, but did say that if the tax wasn’t approved it “causes us to slam on the brakes” and introduces uncertainty both in the state legislature and with Virgin Galactic. “I can’t predict what a negative vote from Doña Ana County would do to the state Legislature coming up with $25 million” for spaceport road developments currently under consideration,” he said. “I can’t predict how Virgin will respond to a negative vote on Tuesday.”