Reubin Askew, former Fla. governor, dies

Reubin Askew, a fierce advocate for racial equality and ethical government, died at a Tallahassee hospital early Thursday morning.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  March 13, 2014 at 11:04 AM
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Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew has died Thursday at the age of 85.

Askew, a fierce advocate for racial equality and ethical government, was admitted to a Tallahassee hospital on Saturday after suffering a stroke. He passed away shortly after 3:30 a.m., surrounded by family.

A Democrat, Askew served at a time of upheaval in Florida's history, overseeing massive population growth, the opening of Disney World in Orlando, and school desegregation. In office from 1971-1979, he ran on a platform of school bussing and helped stave the impact of an anti-bussing measure meant to re-segregate by getting another passed that opposed "a return to a dual system of public schools."

While scandals rocked Washington -- the Watergate break-in was in 1972 -- others forced out two Florida Supreme Court justices and led to the indictments of three cabinet members. But Askew, circumventing a legislature that failed to pass transparency measures, promoted the "Sunshine Amendment," a voter-passed constitutional amendment that banned gifts to legislators, impels full financial disclosure by public officials and candidates, and prohibits former officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office.

Askew was named the second-best governor in Florida's history, behind LeRoy Collins, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government named him one of the 10 best governors in the U.S. of the 20th Century.

After stepping down as governor, Askew served as the U.S. Trade Representative under President Jimmy Carter and ran a brief bid for president in 1984. He also ran for Senate in 1988, but dropped out of the race while expressing his frustration at feeling like a "professional beggar."

Instead, he began teaching at public universities in the state, and taught graduate students at the Reubin O'D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at he University of Florida, founded in his name in 1994.

Askew is survived by his wife, Donna Lou, to whom he was married for 58 years, and their children Kevin and Angela.

[Tampa Bay Times]

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