MIKE F. EASLEY was born in Nash County, North Carolina in 1950. The second of seven children, he was raised on a tobacco farm. Easley attended the University of North Carolina and received a bachelor’s degree in political science with honors. In 1975, he graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he served as managing editor of the law review. In 1982, Easley was elected district attorney. One of the state’s youngest district attorneys ever, he was named among USA Today’s top “drug busters.”
Elected state attorney general in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. He spearheaded efforts to reach the historic national tobacco settlement. Easley was elected governor in November 2000 and re-elected in 2004. He championed fiscal discipline to the state’s finances while also increasing investments in education and infrastructure, key components to recruiting and retaining high quality jobs and industry for the state. Easley used targeted, performance-based initiatives that generated more than 25,000 new jobs and $4 billion in investment for the state, earning North Carolina the title “State of the Year” and No. 1 “Comeback Kid” from Southern Business and Development Magazine in 2005. Easley also reduced class size in grades K-3, implemented the first statewide pre-kindergarten program for at-risk children, launched an effort to reform the state’s high schools and introduced measures to improve North Carolina’s students performing at or above grade level on ABC tests. Governor Easley and his wife Mary have one child, Michael, Jr.