By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico
State legislators from Portales, Clovis and Tucumcari remember former Gov. Bruce King as a man who connected with people and served his state well.
King died Friday morning at his ranch in Stanley. He was 85.
The Democrat served three terms as governor, 1971-74, 1979-82 and 1991-94.
“He was one of the best governors I ever served under,” State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said.
Ingle was a state senator during King’s final term as governor.
King was fair, didn’t hold grudges and tried to support legislators in their districts, Ingle said. The former governor cared about people and was a good man, he continued.
State Sen. Clinton Harden, R-Clovis, said King had been a friend of the Harden family since his first term, when Harden’s mother wrote to ask for a bridge repair near the family’s property in San Miguel County. After it was fixed, King crossed the bridge and had breakfast with Harden’s parents.
“First, he was a consummate politician, a statesman, a humanitarian, a true representative of the people,” Harden said of King. “And up until today, he was a living legend.”
Harden recalled how King would come to the Roosevelt and Curry county fairs and walk through the midway, “sleeves rolled up, rubbing shoulders” with people. He said King never forgot a name and always stopped to ask Harden about his mother.
“But he did that with everybody. That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Harden said.
State Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa, said he campaigned for King before the former governor’s second and third terms.
“Gov. Bruce King has always been, in my opinion, a hero to the rural area,” Campos said.
King reflected the culture and values of rural New Mexico, he continued. Campos said King would be missed because he was a father of the party, someone other Democrats aspired to be like.
“We can never say enough about Bruce King and what he’s done for small rural towns,” Campos said.
State Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Tucumcari, didn’t serve under King, but heard good things about him.
“Republicans and Democrats alike, folks from the city, folks from the country, all spoke well of him,” Roch said. “He stands as a great example in New Mexico’s history of a leader that connected with people in all walks of life, and he will be missed.”
State Rep. Anna M. Crook, R-Clovis, didn’t serve under King, but has been in the state House of Representatives with his son, now state Attorney General Gary King, and his niece, Rhonda King, D-Stanley.
“Gov. King was a true New Mexican, and he loved his state and the people in New Mexico,” Crook said. “He served honestly and will be greatly missed.”