Bruce King

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Bruce King
Governor Bruce King.jpg
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 Cargo
Succeeded by Jerry Apodaca
Member of the New Mexico House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1924-04-06)April 6, 1924
Stanley, New Mexico, U.S.
Died November 13, 2009(2009-11-13) (aged 85)
Stanley, New Mexico, U.S.
Resting place Stanley Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Alice King (1947–2008, her death)
Alma mater University of New Mexico
Profession Businessman and politician
Military service
Allegiance  United States
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 businessman and politician. He served three terms as the governor of the state of New Mexico. He was a member of the Democratic Party. King was the longest-serving Governor in New Mexico history with 12 years of service.

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

King was born on April 6, 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, New Mexico.

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 1968-69, 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]

King with Margaret Lefranc in 1992

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 governors to succeed themselves before 1991, due to term limits.

King became the first governor who could succeed himself after the term limit laws were changed to two and ran for reelection in 1994, but was defeated for a fourth term by then Republican businessman and future Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.

King was severely criticized by writer Roger Morris in The Devil's Butcher Shop: The New Mexico Prison Uprising for his mishandling of the 1980 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 to his wife Alice for 61 years until her death on December 7, 2008. Their son Gary King served as New Mexico Attorney General from 2007 to 2015 and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014.

King was recovering from a procedure in September 2009 to adjust the pacemaker that was implanted after he had a heart attack in 1997. He died on November 13, 2009 in Stanley, New Mexico, at the age of 85.[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.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
David Cargo
Governor of New Mexico
January 1, 1971 – January 1, 1975
Succeeded by
Jerry Apodaca
Preceded by
Jerry Apodaca
Governor of New Mexico
January 1, 1979 – January 1, 1983
Succeeded by
Toney Anaya
Preceded by
Garrey Carruthers
Governor of New Mexico
January 1, 1991 – January 1, 1995
Succeeded by
Gary Johnson