Former Florida Governor Reubin Askew dead at age 85

Partylines Political Notebook / Headline Surfer®

Made several stops in Daytona, including 1971 Firecracker 400 race

Reubin Askew snapshot -- former governor dead at age 85, reported in Daytona Beach, FL / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® / YouTube video uploads /
Highlights of Gov. Askew include 1st video: Overview of political career; 2nd video: Brief flirtation with run for president in 1984 elections; 3rd video: Discussion on desegregation through busing.
 
Headline Surfer® / Wikipedia graphic /
Reubin Askew, former two-term governor of the Sunshine State, has passed away in Tallahassee. Highlights of his life and political career are shown in the snapshot at left.
 

DAYTONA BEACH -- Reubin Askew, who served as the 37th governor of Florida from 1971 to 1979, died early this morning with family members by his side at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. He was 85.

His death was announced to the media by Ron Sachs, a former aide and family spokesman.

Askew's tenure as governor for eight years, beginning in 1971, was during a time in the U.S. of turmoil and change: There was the disgraceful resignation of President Nixon with Watergate to the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War and Askew's earlier successful push in 1972 for desegregation of Florida schools through busing, despite sporadic violence that ensued.

Askew made several stops in Daytona Beach. He attended the 1971 Firecracker race at Daytona International Speedway in 1971.

Askew also attended the Daytona Beach Annual Chamber of Commerce banquet in December of that year. The following year, he was a guest of the National Alumni Assn. of Bethune Cookman College.

Though he was a liberal Democrat on racial issues and crusaded for overhauling the state's tax laws, open government, environmental protection, ethics legislation and streamlining the courts and other governmental agencies, Askew won his party's nomination in 1970 with State Secretary of Florida Thomas Burton Adams, Jr., tabbed as his running mate.

Though he was a liberal Democrat on racial issues and crusaded for overhauling the state's tax laws, open government, environmental protection, ethics legislation and streamlining the courts and other governmental agencies, Askew won his party's nomination in 1970 with State Secretary of Florida Thomas Burton Adams, Jr., tabbed as his running mate.

The Miami Herald said of the Askew-Adams ticket that it had "captured the imagination of a state that plainly deserves new leadership."

The race for governor was ugly at times with incumbent Republican Claude R. Kirk, Jr., ridiculing Askew, describing him as "a momma's boy who wouldn't have the courage to stand up under the fire of the legislators" and a "nice sweet-looking fellow chosen by liberals ... to front for them."

But in the end, it was Askew who had the last laugh over Kirk, winning the governorship by a margin of 57-43 percent.

In 1974, Askew was re-elected, with J.H. Williams as his running mate.

Tax reform was a big deal for Askew in his first year as governor, winning passage of the state's first corporate income tax.

Seeking transparency in government, Askew used a provision in the 1968 Florida Constitution requiring financial disclosure in campaigns leading to passage of the Sunshine Amendment by 78 percent of the voters in 1976.

The measure called for full financial disclosure, a ban on gifts to state legislators and a two-year hold on serving as a lobbyist after leaving office.

The new law, along with his personal integrity, earned Askew the nickname "Reubin the Good," despite scandals all around him.

The new law, along with his personal integrity, earned Askew the nickname "Reubin the Good," despite scandals all around him.

Askew became so popular in such a short period of of time, George McGovern asked him to be his running mate for the 1972 presidential election, but Askew turned him down.

Askew was big on racial and gender equality, integrating the Florida Highway Patrol. He also appointed the first black in 100 years to the Florida Cabinet and the first black justice to the Florida Supreme Court.

Askew election results / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® graphic /
Election results for governor show Reubin Askew winning two consecutive terms in office.
 

Askew also started the practice of using nominating commissions for judicial appointments when vacancies arose and he required appellate and state supreme court justices to face the voters every six years to determine whether they should be retained.

Askew ran for president in 1984, but his candidacy came to an abrupt end after he finished last in the Democratic primary race in New Hampshire.

in 1956, Askew was elected as Assistant County Solicitor of Escambia County, Florida. In 1958, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.

After two terms, in 1962 he was elected to the Florida Senate. From 1969 to 1970, he served as president pro tempore of the Florida State Senate. He received the Legion of Honor from the International Supreme Council of the Order of DeMolay in 1971.

Askew was born in Muskogee, Okla., one of six children of Leon G. Askew and Alberta (O'Donovan) Askew. His parents divorced, in part because of what Askew said was his father's "serious drinking problem." Two of his brothers later had similar problems. Askew chose to be a lifelong teetotaler and non-smoker.

Askew was born in Muskogee, Okla., one of six children of Leon G. Askew and Alberta (O'Donovan) Askew. His parents divorced, in part because of what Askew said was his father's "serious drinking problem." Two of his brothers later had similar problems. Askew chose to be a lifelong teetotaler and non-smoker.

FAST FACTS: Consecutive terms as governor

Reubin Askew was the first Florida governor to win two consecutive terms and complete both four-year terms. Jeb Bush was the second. Others elected to two terms were LeRoy Collins, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles. Collins was elected to a two-year term followed by a four-year term, Graham resigned shortly before the end of his second term to become a U.S. senator and Chiles died in office near the end of his second term.

Did You Know?

Reubin Askew was one of the first of the "New South" governors, elected in the same year as Governors Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Dale Bumpers of Arkansas and John C. West of South Carolina. They were later joined by Bill Clinton of Arkansas. 
 
Editor's Note: Information from Wikipedia was used in this story.
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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.