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George Deukmejian

Gov. George Deukmejian

  • January 3, 1983 - January 7, 1991
  • Republican
  • June 6, 1928
  • May 8, 2018
  • New York
  • Siena College, St. John's University
  • Married Gloria M. Saatjian; three children
  • Army


GEORGE “DUKE” DEUKMEJIAN was born in Menands, New York. He graduated from Siena College in 1949 with a degree in sociology and earned his law degree from St. John’s University in 1952. The governor served in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, from 1953 to 1955. He was elected to the California State Assembly and served as minority whip. After serving four years in the assembly, he was elected to the state senate, where he served for 12 years. As a legislator, he sponsored the “use a gun, go to jail” law. Asked why he ran for the office of governor, Deukmejian replied, “Attorneys General don’t appoint judges – Governors do.” In 1978, he was elected governor and then reelected to a second term by one of the largest vote margins in state history. During his eight-year term, Deukmejian appointed 1,000 judges, and by the time he left office, he had appointed the majority of California State Supreme Court Justices then serving on the bench. His accomplishments included restoring fiscal integrity to state government; promoting sound economic policies that led to the creation of more than 2.8 million new jobs; making education top priority for the state; enacting waste management plans in the nation; and creating a “workfare” program.


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