Sunday, 14 October 2012 20:36

Some random facts on New Mexico Governors

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Random NM Gubernatorial Facts


Arthur Scott


  My curiosity was piqued by Michael Miller’s 1981 New Mexico Magazine with a very prophetic conclusion. So after some internet research, I put together the following numbers concerning New Mexico’s governors to present (2012):


Territorial 1851-1912


   From 1850 to 1912 New Mexico had 18 governors appointed by the President. The first governor was James S. Calhoun from Georgia. He served one year and resigned to return to Georgia. Of the 18 territorial governor’s 2 were Whigs, 12 were Republicans, and 5 were Democrats. Only one, Miguel A. Otero was a native-born New Mexican from Valencia and was the only one with a Hispanic surname. Miguel Otero was a prolific writer and several of his books are still available. I heartily recommend “My Nine Years as Governor of New Mexico.”


After Statehood 1912 – 2012


      From statehood in 1912 to 2012 there have been 39 gubernatorial terms. Terms were two years until 1968 when the term limits were changed to 4

years. Term limits state that a governor can serve two consecutive terms but then must skip a term before rerunning.

Only two governors, Edwin L. Mecham and Bruce King served more than two terms. Each served three terms. Bruce King was the longest serving governor with 12 years in office.

   Thirty one individuals have served as governor, 19 Democrats and 12 Republicans. There was only one foreign-born Governor; Octaviano Larrazolo, who was born in Valle de Allende, Chihuahua. Women were given the right to vote in 1920, New Mexico was the last state to ratify the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.  Indians living on reservations were given the right to vote in federal elections in 1948 as a result of a lawsuit by a World War II veteran from Iseleta Pueblo.  Indians in the state were given full voting rights in 1962 (?). There was one Native American governor; John E. Miles who served from 1939 to 1943. He was from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, of Cherokee descent and his ethnicity was kept secret at the time. His wife was Choctaw.

   From 1917 to 1975 there were no Spanish surnamed governors. In one hundred and sixty two years, from the formation of the territory to present, there have only been six Hispanic governors.  

    Of the thirty one individuals serving as governor from 1912 to present, only seven were born in New Mexico. Between statehood and 1951 there were only two native-born governors, Esquivel C. de Baca, who only served two months as the second state governor before dying in office and Arthur Seligman (my grandfather) who served one term and half of a second term before dying of a heart attack while in office. These are the only two governors to die while in office and both were New Mexico natives.   

       Concerning Governor Seligman the State Historian states “He was the first native-born, non-Hispanic, governor of Jewish ancestry.”  To my knowledge, he was the only Jewish governor to date.  However, from what I was told he was not a religious man. My grandmother was an Episcopalian and at his death the official state funeral service was led by an Episcopalian minister. And the Masonic service for the dead was read at his graveside causing some controversy in the local Jewish community at the time. . 

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Mike Lord Monday, 15 October 2012 00:42 posted by Mike Lord

    I visited his grave recently at Fairview Cemetery, Pete. Whatever his religion, at the end he believed. As do we all.

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