Bruce King is dead at 85. Our only three-term Governor, King is the man who New Mexicans of my generation equate with the office. He’s also the guy we think of (aside, possibly, from Manny Aragon and Ray Sanchez) when we think of New Mexico politics in general. He was a keen-witted cowboy politician with all the folksy charm of Andy of Mayberry. King was famous for entering a restaurant and shaking hands with everyone in the place, offering a "How y'all doing?" or a "Good to see you again" -- even years after he left office.
An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican says that
"Many who remembered him Friday described King as a far cry from today's slick politicians, someone who stuck close to his country roots and his cowboy hats, once riding his horse to the state Capitol in a move to both save gas and attract a little publicity for the state's tourism industry."
King was the governor who brought Intel to Rio Rancho. But he was also the man-in-charge during the infamous Santa Fe Prison riots in 1980 in which 35 inmates were butchered.
King was also a cattle rancher in Stanley, NM. For years when I heard of the famous King Ranch, I thought it was referring to Governor Bruce’s spread, and was confused when I saw that Ford had released a King Ranch edition of one of its pick-ups. The place ain’t that big.
(So for those who don’t know, THE King Ranch is in Texas and takes up something like ¾’s of the state.)