Jerry Apodaca was a prominent political figure in the State of New Mexico. A member of the Democratic Party, he would go on to reach the state's highest political office. During his gubernatorial tenure, Apodaca would fundamentally shift New Mexico's executive branch.

Both during and after serving as governor, he also held a post in the Carter administration. In more recent years, Apodaca's health condition had apparently been in a continuous state of decline.

Passed away on April 26, 2023

Jerry Apodaca has died, report the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal.

He was 88. A cause of death was not initially confirmed to the public, but early indicators seem to appear that Apodaca had a stroke.

Apodaca was apparently at home at the time of his passing. Which as of late for him had been in Santa Fe.

He was elected governor of New Mexico in 1974. Democratic incumbent Governor Bruce King was term limited from launching a consecutive campaign for the office. Apodaca narrowly prevailed over Joe Skeen in the general election. Skeen was a former state senator and chairman of the New Mexico chapter of the Republican Party. He later went on to become a longtime member of the United States House of Representatives.

As governor, Apocada made several significant changes to the state government.

He would implement the Cabinet system, initially made up of 12 departments. In the years to follow, it would grow considerably larger. Apodaca would also abolish or consolidate a number of previously existing government entities.

While governor, U.S. President Jimmy Carter appointed him as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Apodaca remained in the position until 1980. Like King before him, Apodaca was barred from running for governor again in 1978. That year's match-up would end up being between two familiar names – Bruce King and Joe Skeen – with King winning.

In 1982, Apodaca made a run for the United States Senate. He lost the Democratic primary to State Attorney General Jeff Bingaman, who later won the general election and eventually chaired the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Afterward, Apodaca served on the Board of Regents for the University of New Mexico.

Apodaca also made another run for governor in 1998. He would finish in a distant third place in the Democratic primary. The nomination went to former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. Chavez lost the general election to the Republican nominee, businessman Gary Johnson.

His son also ran for governor

Jerry Apodaca was a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He went on to graduate from the University of New Mexico, where he was a member of the football team. Afterward, Apodaca was a teacher and football coach at Valley High School in Albuquerque. He eventually returned to Las Cruces and started an insurance business. Along the way, he also served in the United States Marine Corps.

In 1965, Apodaca was elected to the New Mexico Senate. He would be re-elected three times.

In 2018, his son, Jeff Apodaca, was a candidate for governor of New Mexico. Jeff lost the Democratic primary in a landslide to U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham. Afterward, the elder Apodaca endorsed the Republican nominee, controversial U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, in the general election. Lujan Grisham would defeat Pearce by a hefty margin.

The headquarters of the New Mexico Department of Education is named after Apodaca.