George Deukmejian, a perennially popular two-term Republican governor of California who built his career on fighting crime, hardening the state’s criminal justice stance and shoring up its leaky finances, died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old.
Deukmejian, who was elected governor in 1982 and 1986, died at his home in Long Beach, according to a statement from his family.
During his many years of public service, including 16 years as a state legislator and four as state attorney general, Deukmejian sponsored the successful “use a gun, go to prison” bill, oversaw development of a workfare program for welfare recipients and negotiated with the Democrat-controlled Legislature to create an $18.5-billion, 10-year transportation plan.
The son of Armenian immigrants, Deukmejian had years of public office on his resumé before winning election as governor and emerging as the most prominent Armenian-American politician in the United States.
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