Bruce King

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For the American football player, see Bruce King (American football). For the psychologist, see Bruce M. King. For the chemist, see R. Bruce King.
Bruce King
23rd, 25th & 28th Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1991 – January 1, 1995
Lieutenant Casey Luna
Preceded by Garrey Carruthers
Succeeded by Gary Johnson
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 1, 1983
Lieutenant Roberto Mondragón
Preceded by Jerry Apodaca
Succeeded by Toney Anaya
In office
January 1, 1971 – January 1, 1975
Lieutenant Roberto Mondragón
Preceded by David F. Cargo
Succeeded by Jerry Apodaca
Personal details
Born (1924-04-06)April 6, 1924
Stanley, New Mexico
Died November 13, 2009(2009-11-13) (aged 85)
Stanley, New Mexico
Resting place Stanley Cemetery

Stanley, New Mexico

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Alice King (1947-2008)
Alma mater University of New Mexico
Profession Businessman
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1946
Battles/wars World War II

Bruce King (April 6, 1924 – November 13, 2009) was an American politician who served three terms as the governor of the state of New Mexico. He was a Democrat.

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

King was born in 1924 in Stanley, New Mexico. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

King's career in politics began when he was elected to the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners in 1954. He was re-elected and served as the chairman of the board during his second term.

In 1959, he was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. He served five consecutive terms in the House and during three of his terms he was Speaker of the House.

From 1968 to 1969, King was chairman of the state Democratic Party. In 1969 he was also the president of the State Constitutional Convention.

Governor of New Mexico[edit]

In 1970, King was elected as governor, defeating Republican Pete Domenici. He served as the 23rd, 25th and 28th Governor of New Mexico from 1971 until 1975, 1979 until 1983 and from 1991 until 1995. His terms were non-consecutive because the New Mexico constitution did not allow a governor to succeed him or her self prior to 1991. King became the first governor who could succeed himself and ran for re-election in 1994, but was defeated for a fourth term by Republican Gary Johnson.

Governor King was severely criticized by writer Roger Morris in The Devil's Butcher Shop: The New Mexico Prison Uprising for his mishandling of the New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot which led to the deaths of 33 inmates, although other estimates are higher. It is suggested in this work that the corruption and brutality tolerated under King's administration were contributing factors to the high level of violence in the riot.

Personal life[edit]

King was married for 61 years until the death of Alice, his wife, in December 2008. He is the father of current New Mexico attorney general and 2014 Gubernatorial nominee for the Democratic Party Gary King.

King was recovering from a heart procedure in September 2009 to adjust the pacemaker that was implanted after he had a heart attack in 1997. He died in Stanley on November 13, 2009.[1]


  • Colvin, Mark (1982). "The 1980 New Mexico Prison Riot." Social Problems 29.
  • Hirliman, George (2005). " Lincoln: iuniverse.
  • King, Bruce (1998). Cowboy in the Roundhouse: A Political Life. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press.
  • Morris, Roger (1983). The Devil's Butcher Shop. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • "New Report Describes Events Surrounding New Mexico Prison Riot". (June 8, 1980). New York Times.


Political offices
Preceded by
David F. Cargo
Governor of New Mexico
1971 – 1975
Succeeded by
Jerry Apodaca
Preceded by
Jerry Apodaca
Governor of New Mexico
1979 – 1983
Succeeded by
Toney Anaya
Preceded by
Garrey Carruthers
Governor of New Mexico
1991 – 1995
Succeeded by
Gary Johnson