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Gray Davis

Gov. Gray Davis

  • January 4, 1999 - November 17, 2003
  • Democrat
  • December 26, 1942
  • New York
  • Stanford University; Columbia University Law School
  • Married Sharon Ryer
  • Army
  • Bronze Star


JOSEPH GRAHAM DAVIS JR. (nicknamed “Gray” as a child by his mother) was elected Governor of California on November 3, 1998, and reelected on November 5, 2002. Davis was born in New York City on December 26, 1942. He graduated cum laude from Stanford University and then went on to receive a Columbia University Law School degree. He also served as a U.S. Army Captain in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. Prior to being elected governor, Davis served as lieutenant governor from 1995 to 1999 and state controller from 1987 to 1995. From 1983 to 1986, he served in the state assembly from Los Angeles County. From 1975 to 1981, he was chief of staff to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. As governor Davis made improving public education his top priority. As a result, the state had its first-ever education accountability programs, and scores on standardized tests increased four years in a row. Davis also made record investments in health care and stood strong in protecting California’s air and water. He also revived California’s relationship with its largest trading partner, Mexico, and led the state in moving from the seventh to the fifth largest economy in the world. In addition, Davis signed into law the nation’s first laws to reduce greenhouse gases, promote stem cell research, and reform HMOs. Davis lost the governorship through recall by popular vote. He is currently affiliated with the Los Angeles office of the law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP.


Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery Biography

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