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Gray Davis

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

In a special election on October 7, 2003, Democrat Joseph Graham Davis, Jr. (1942- ), most commonly known as Gray Davis, became the first Governor to be recalled in California history and only the second to be recalled in American history. Davis was replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. 44.6% of the electorate voted to retain Davis. Schwarzenegger had the support of 48.6% of the people.


Gray Davis's Gubernatorial biography:

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.

Gray Davis on Tobacco Issues

Under Governor Davis, California's anti-tobacco campaign became one of the largest and most effective in the nation. It was so effective, in fact, that R. J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco sued to stop it. The suit was dismissed in July, 2003.

California was the first state to enact a 100% smokefree workplace law. Currently, California has the second lowest smoking rate in the nation. In addition, six out of nine cancer types linked to tobacco use have a lower incidence rate in California than the rest of the nation.

In September 2002, Governor Davis signed bills to ensure age verification was obtained for cigarettes and other tobacco products sold over the Internet or through the mail, ensured that all state taxes are being fully paid on tobacco purchases, and increased the penalty for possessing or purchasing untaxed cigarettes. He also signed legislation to expand smoke-free zones around public buildings. In addition, he introduced a new hard-hitting anti-smoking ad that graphically depicts the damage caused by secondhand smoke.


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