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LWV League of Women Voters of California
California State Government November 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Gray Davis

Candidate for
Governor; State of California

This information is provided by the candidate

Joseph Graham Davis, Jr. (nicknamed Gray by his mother) was overwhelmingly elected the 37th Governor of California on November 3, 1998, winning 58 percent of the statewide vote. In the June primary election, Davis shocked political observers by not only handily defeating two better funded Democratic opponents, but by also finishing ahead of the unopposed Republican nominee. It was the continuation of an old tradition; in his successful campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 1994, he received more votes than any other Democratic candidate in America.

Described by the San Jose Mercury News as "perhaps the best-trained Governor-in-waiting California has ever produced," Governor Gray Davis has made improving public education his administration's number-one priority. As his first official act as Governor, he called a special session of the Legislature to address his proposals to ensure that every child can read by age 9, strengthen teacher training and education, and increase accountability in the schools.

As Lieutenant Governor, Gray Davis focused on efforts to keep jobs in California and encourage new and fast-growing industries to locate and expand in the state. He also led the fight to keep a college education affordable for California's middle-class families, pushing through the largest student-fee reduction in California history. As the state's second-highest officeholder, he also served as President of the State Senate, Chair of the Commission for Economic Development, Chair of the State Lands Commission, Regent of the University of California and Trustee of the California State University.

Prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor, Gray Davis served as State Controller for eight years. As California's chief fiscal officer, he saved taxpayers more than half a billion dollars by cracking down on Medi-Cal fraud, rooting out government waste and inefficiency, and exposing the misuse of public funds. He was the first Controller to withhold paychecks from all state elected officials, including himself, until the Governor and the Legislature passed a long-overdue budget; and he found and returned more than $1.8 billion in unclaimed property to California citizens, including forgotten bank accounts, insurance settlements, and stocks.

From 1983-1987, Gray Davis served in the State Assembly from Los Angeles County and was Chief of Staff to Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. from 1975-1981. As Chair of the California Council on Criminal Justice in the 1970s, he started the statewide Neighborhood Watch program.

Gray Davis was born in New York City on December 26, 1942. He attended Stanford University, graduating with distinction in 1964 with a degree in history. He went on to Columbia University Law School in New York where he won the Moot Court award in his freshman year. He graduated from Columbia in 1967 and then clerked at the law firm of Beekman & Bogue in New York City.

In 1961, while at Stanford University, Gray Davis joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) with a commitment to enter military service after completing law school. He entered active duty in the U.S. Army in 1967, rising to the rank of captain while serving in Vietnam in 1968-69. In Vietnam he earned the Bronze Star for meritorious service. He is a life member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He has been married since 1983 to the former Sharon Ryer of Santee, San Diego County.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: August 19, 2002 18:12
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