Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Timeline of the life of Reubin Askew, 37th governor of Florida

Sept. 11, 1928: Reubin O'Donovan Askew is born in Muskogee, Okla., the youngest of six children. His parents divorce when Reubin is 2, and the children are raised by his mother.

1937: Alberta Askew moves her family to Pensacola. She honors thrift, charity and empathy, and abhors gambling, laziness and alcohol — attitudes that deeply influence her son.

1946: After high school, Askew enlists in U.S. Army, becoming a paratrooper.

1951: Graduates from Florida State University, where he was student body president, with bachelor of science degree in public administration.

1951-1953: Serves as Air Force officer.

1956: Graduates from University of Florida Law School, where he is class president. Admitted to Florida Bar. Public career begins with appointment as assistant county prosecutor for Escambia County. In August, he marries Donna Lou Harper. They will raise two children, Angela and Kevin.

1958: Elected to Florida House of Representatives as a Democrat from Escambia County. Partner in Pensacola law firm of Levin, Askew, Warfield, Graff and Mabie.

1962: Elected to Florida Senate; directs energies to reforming government.

1965: A reapportionment plan authored by Askew helps force the "Pork Chop Gang" — rural conservative Democrats from North Florida who formed a shadow government — to redistribute political power.

1967: He is an active supporter of the Sunshine Law, which requires open meetings for government boards.

1968-1970: Serves as president pro tempore of Senate; resigns in 1970 to run for governor.

1970: 41-year-old Askew defeats Republican incumbent Claude Kirk to become Florida's 37th governor; serves from 1971 to 1979. Askew's populist platform includes substantial tax reform, including successful campaign for corporate profits tax.

1971: The Legislature enacts sweeping judicial and penal reform, including classifying alcoholism as a disease and reducing penalties for first-time marijuana possession, along with establishing community correctional centers and merit retention system for judges and streamlining court system.

Aug. 28, 1971: Askew is warned of plans to blow up empty buses to disrupt new federal school busing plan. In UF commencement speech, he tells parents and school superintendents he expects peaceful desegregation of Florida's schools. This, even though he personally opposed forced busing. Desegregation is largely peaceful.

1972: Successfully pushes environmental legislation, including development of regional impact process, water resources management and a $200 million bond issue to acquire sensitive land, most notably the Big Cypress. There also would be mandates for coastal construction setback lines and a new growth policy.

July 11, 1972: Delivers keynote address at Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. Turns down offer to be nominee George McGovern's running mate.

1974: Askew begins second term, the first governor elected for a successive four-year term in Florida history.

Appoints first woman, Dorothy Glisson, to the Cabinet.

1976: When recalcitrant Legislature refuses to pass ethics reform after a series of scandals, Askew takes his case to voters. He leads campaign to pass Sunshine Amendment, requiring financial disclosure by all public officials, candidates and employees. Approved by 78 percent of voters, it is first citizen initiative added to the Florida Constitution. During his administration, election laws are strengthened and state Elections Commission established.

1975: Appoints Joseph W. Hatchett from Clearwater to a vacancy on the Florida Supreme Court. He is the South's first black state supreme court justice since Reconstruction.

1978: Three out of four voters reject casino gambling in Florida, an idea Askew resolutely opposed.

Appoints Jesse McCrary secretary of state, the first black in the Cabinet in more than 100 years. Appoints Anne C. Booth to 1st District Court of Appeal, the first female appellate judge in Florida.

1979: In October, President Jimmy Carter names him U.S. trade representative (1979-1980).

1981-1984: Askew tests waters for Democratic presidential nomination. He drops out after finishing last in New Hampshire primary.

1987-1988: Runs for U.S. Senate but drops out, citing rigors of fundraising. Republican Connie Mack wins.

1989: Begins teaching, first at Florida International University and then at Florida Atlantic University. Eventually, he will teach at all 10 major public universities in Florida. In 1996, he is a visiting professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

1994: The Reubin O'D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society is created at UF "to bring Floridians together to discuss critical issues." Florida State University's school of public administration is renamed in Askew's honor.

1995: Named distinguished professor of public policy at FSU. Will split his time between FSU and the Florida Institute of Government, a Tallahassee-based group helping researchers who advise government about state problems.

1998: Designated a great Floridian by the state.

2013: Teaches his final series of public administration courses at FSU.

March 13, 2014: Dies surrounded by family members.

— Times researcher Natalie Watson

Sources: Florida Governor's Mansion, Florida State University Libraries, National Governors Association, Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, University of Florida, Tallahassee Democrat, Times files, Lakeland Ledger, Current Biography, The Florida Handbook

     
   
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