David Cargo

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David Francis Cargo

Preceded by Jack M. Campbell
Succeeded by Bruce King

New Mexico State Representative
In office
January 1, 1963 – January 1, 1967

Born January 13, 1929
Dowagiac, Cass County,
Died July 5, 2013 (aged 84)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Resting place Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ida Jo Anaya Cargo Robson (divorced)
Children Five children
Alma mater University of Michigan

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1953-1955

David Francis Cargo, self-named in his autobiography as "Lonesome Dave" Cargo (January 13, 1929 – July 5, 2013), was the 22nd Governor of his adopted state of New Mexico, a post which he filled from 1967 to 1971. An attorney, Cargo served earlier from 1963 to 1967 as a state representative from the state's largest city, Albuquerque.[1] A Moderate Republican, he was often at odds with the conservative faction in the New Mexico GOP. He is the youngest person to have served as governor of New Mexico.


Born in Dowagiac in Cass County in southwestern Michigan, Cargo was the eldest of three children of Francis Cargo and the former Mary Harton.[2] He received bachelor's, master's, and law degrees from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


At the age of thirty-seven, he was elected governor in 1966, one of the youngest men ever elected as a state governor. He filed one of the first suits to enforce proportional representation in the state legislature.

In the 1966 gubernatorial primary election, Cargo narrowly defeated Clifford J. Hawley of the capital city of Santa Fe, 17,836 votes (52 percent) to 16,588 (48 percent). [3] In 1966, Cargo won with 17,836 (51.8 percent) to Hawley's 16,588 (48.2 percent).[4] He improved his primary performance in 1968, when he again defeated Hawley, 28,014 (54.9 percent) to 23,052 (45.1 percent).[5]

Cargo won the general election of 1966, when he narrowly defeated Democrat Gene Lusk. Cargo received 134,625 votes (51.7 percent; Lusk, 125,587 (48.3 percent).[4] Running again in 1968, when Richard M. Nixon carried New Mexico in the presidential election against Democrat Hubert Humphrey, Cargo won by an even smaller margin, 160,140 (50.5 percent) to Democrat Fabian Chavez Jr.,'s 157,230 ballots (49.5 percent).[5]

Governor, Cargo established the state film commission, which brought millions of dollars in revenue to the state of New Mexico. Cargo established ties to Hollywood and was even asked to appear in several films, such as The Gatling Gun (1971), Up in the Cellar (1970), and Bunny O'Hare (1971). starring Bette Davis (1908-1989) and Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012). During his first campaign for governor, he was known as "Lonesome Dave."[6][7]

On May 8, 1970, Cargo sent National Guard troops to the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque when anti-war Democrat activist and actress Jane Fonda spoke to an estimated seven hundred protesters.[8] Gathered to protest the Vietnam War and the Kent State University massacre in Ohio that had happened four days earlier, the National Guard was given orders to end the protest and bayonetted 11 people.[9] A class action lawsuit was brought against Cargo and individual guardsmen by six of the bayonetting victims. A jury in Albuquerque eventually sided with Cargo, the National Guard, and the other politicians involved leaving victims to pay their own medical bills.[10]

Cargo could not seek a third two-year term in 1970 due to term limits.[11] Cargo ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970, but he lost the Republican primary to oilman Anderson "Andy" Carter (1926-2000), a supporter of then California Governor Ronald W. Reagan, who was first elected on the same day as Cargo.[12] Anderson Carter polled 32,122 (57.8 percent) to Cargo's 17,951 (32.3 percent).[13] Carter then lost the 1970 United States Senate election in New Mexico to incumbent Democrat Joseph Montoya.[13] Cargo ran unsuccessfully for New Mexico's other Senate seat in 1972 but again lost the primary, this time to the eventual winner, Pete Domenici.[12]

From 1973 to 1985, Cargo lived in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 1984, placing third in the Republican primary won by an appointed incumbent. After returning to New Mexico, Cargo won the Republican nomination in 1986 for New Mexico's 3rd congressional district but was defeated by the incumbent, Democrat Bill Richardson, later a major player in the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton.[12] In 1989, Cargo ran for mayor of Albuquerque but placed third, and thus did not advance to the runoff contest.[14] In 1993 he ran again for mayor but lost to Martin Chávez.[12] In 1994, he sought a gubernatorial comeback but finished in fourth place with 13 percent in the primary and lost to the eventual winner, Gary E. Johnson, a libertarian Republican.[15] Cargo made his final race in 1997 when he again contested the Albuquerque mayoralty, but he finished third and lost to Jim Baca.[16]

Cargo in his later years continued to practice law in Albuquerque. In 2010, he wrote an autobiography entitled Lonesome Dave,[17] a reference to his liberal politics inside the Republican Party.

The Luna Community College Library in Mora, New Mexico, is named in Cargo's honor.

Personal life

Cargo and his wife, Ida Jo, had five children: Veronica, David, Patrick, Elena and Eamon. They subsequently divorced.[6]

Cargo died in 2013 at the age of eighty-four of complications of a stroke which he had two years earlier.[6]


  1. David F. Cargo, New Mexico Office of the State Historian, no longer on line.
  2. J. E. Kallenbach, State Governors, 1776-1976, Oceana Publications.
  3. "Governor Race Sparks Contest in New Mexico", St. Petersburg Times, May 4, 1966. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Richard M. Scammon (1967). America Votes. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Richard M. Scammon (1969). America Votes. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Former NM Governor Dave Cargo Dies. KRQE.com. Retrieved on December 1, 2022.
  7. David Cargo (Biography_. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on December 9, 2022.
  8. Leslie Linthcum, "Battle Lines in Mirage Spring, UNM Alumni Association, 2020.
  9. Rick Nathanson, "Bayoneting Victims Recall 50th Anniversary of UNM Bloodshed," usnews.com, May 16, 2020.
  10. Milan Simonich. "Bayonets, blood and tears stained UNM in 1970". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved on July 11, 2022.
  11. Constitution Of The State Of New Mexico - Article V, Section 1. New Mexico Secretary of State. Retrieved on August 20, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Steve Terrell (July 5, 2013). "Former New Mexico Gov. David Cargo dead at 84". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved on July 6, 2013.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Richard M. Scammon (1971). America Votes. 
  14. David F. Cargo. Retrieved on December 1, 2022.
  15. Canvass of Returns of Primary Election Held on June 7, 1994 - State of New Mexico. New Mexico Secretary of State.
  16. City of Albuquerque Regular Municipal Unofficial Election Results, October 7, 1997.
  17. Books: Lonesome Dave. Sunstone Press. Retrieved on December 28, 2010.