121 Facts About Gray Davis


In 2003, under a year into his second term, Davis was recalled and removed from office.


Gray Davis is the second state governor in US history to have been recalled.


Gray Davis was awarded a Bronze Star for his service as a captain in the Vietnam War.


Gray Davis signed the nation's first state law requiring automakers to limit auto emissions.


Gray Davis supported laws to ban assault weapons and is credited with improving relations between California and Mexico.


Gray Davis began his tenure as governor with strong approval ratings, but they declined as voters blamed him for the California electricity crisis, the California budget crisis that followed the bursting of the dot-com bubble, and the car tax.


Gray Davis was succeeded in office on November 17,2003, by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won the recall replacement election.

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Gray Davis was born in the Bronx, New York City the son of Doris Morell and Joseph Graham Gray Davis.


Gray Davis was the oldest of five children: Three boys and two girls.


Gray Davis graduated from a North Hollywood military academy, the Harvard School for Boys.


Gray Davis played on the Stanford golf team with a two handicap.


Gray Davis then returned to New York City to attend Columbia Law School, graduating with his JD degree in 1967.


Gray Davis saw time on the battlefield during his time in Vietnam.


Gray Davis returned home as a captain with a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service.


Gray Davis is a life member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Gray Davis started a statewide neighborhood crime watch program while serving as chairman of the California Council on Criminal Justice.


The historical significance of Bradley's victory further inspired Gray Davis to pursue a career in politics.


Gray Davis ran for state treasurer in 1974 but lost when the more popular Jesse Unruh filed to run on the deadline.


Gray Davis was not as liberal as Brown, and some said he offset Brown's style by projecting a more intense, controlled personality.


Gray Davis has stated that while Brown was campaigning for president in 1980, Gray Davis ran the state in Brown's absence.


Gray Davis served as the Assemblyman from the 43rd district, representing parts of Los Angeles County including West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 1983 to 1987.


Gray Davis championed a popular campaign to help find missing children by placing their pictures on milk cartons and grocery bags.


Gray Davis cut all ties with La Pietra following a Los Angeles Times report on his pornography convictions.


In 1986, Gray Davis ran against six other contenders in the race for State Controller; several of those candidates, including Democrat John Garamendi and Republican Bill Campbell, were arguably better known at the time.


Gray Davis won the election and served as State Controller for eight years until 1995.

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Gray Davis was the first controller to withhold paychecks from all state elected officials, including himself, until the governor and the Legislature passed an overdue budget.


Gray Davis found and returned more than $1.8 billion in unclaimed property to California citizens, including forgotten bank accounts, insurance settlements and stocks.


Gray Davis ran against San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in the 1992 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Pete Wilson who was elected Governor of California in 1990.


The Gray Davis campaign featured an ad that compared Feinstein to the incarcerated hotelier Leona Helmsley.


The ad backfired with Gray Davis losing to Feinstein by a significant margin for the nomination although this loss did not stop Gray Davis from using negative campaign ads in the future, including in his race for lieutenant governor.


Gray Davis blamed his campaign managers for the defeat and vowed not to let major decisions in future campaigns be decided by his campaign staff.


Gray Davis won a landslide victory in his race for lieutenant governor in 1994, receiving more votes than any other Democratic candidate in America.


Gray Davis ran as a moderate candidate against Republican Cathie Wright.


Gray Davis used ads to depict Wright as a Republican who was too conservative for California.


Gray Davis worked to keep college education affordable for California's middle-class families and oversaw the largest student-fee reduction in California history.


Gray Davis even finished ahead of the unopposed Republican nominee in California's first blanket gubernatorial primary.


Gray Davis aimed to portray himself as a moderate centrist Democrat and to label Lungren a Republican too conservative for California and out of touch with its views on issues like guns and abortion.


In 1998, Gray Davis was elected the Golden State's first Democratic governor in 16 years.


Gray Davis used California's growing budget surplus to increase education spending.


Gray Davis signed legislation that provided for a new statewide accountability program and for the Academic Performance Index and supported the high school exit exam.


Gray Davis signed legislation that authorized the largest expansion of the Cal Grant program.


Gray Davis campaigned to lower the approval threshold for local school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent in a statewide proposition that passed.


Gray Davis earmarked $3 billion over four years for new textbooks and, between 1999 and 2004, increased state per-pupil spending from $5,756 to $6,922.


Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 19, which establishes nutritional standards for food at elementary schools and bans the sale of carbonated beverages in elementary and middle schools.


Gray Davis recognized the domestic partnerships registry in 1999 and, in 2001, gave same-sex partners a few of the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses such as making health care decisions for an incapacitated partner, acting as a conservator and inheriting property.

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Gray Davis signed laws in 1999 banning assault weapons by characteristic rather than brand name, as well as limiting handgun purchases to one a month, requiring trigger locks with all sales of new firearms and reducing the sale of cheap handguns.


Gray Davis campaigned as an ardent supporter of capital punishment; which reportedly played a crucial part in his successful gubernatorial campaign.


Early in 1999, Gray Davis sought to improve relations with Mexico.


Gray Davis met with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to improve relations with California's southern neighbor and major trading partner within Gray Davis's first 30 days in office.


Gray Davis later met with President Vicente Fox and participated in his inauguration.


Under Gray Davis, Mexico became California's leading export market for the first time in history and California's trade with Mexico surpassed all of Mexico's trade with Latin America, Europe and Asia combined.


Gray Davis significantly expanded the number of low-income children with state-subsidized health coverage.


Gray Davis signed laws to allow patients to get a second opinion if their HMO denies treatment and, in limited cases, the right to sue.


Gray Davis signed legislation that provided HMO patients a bill of rights, including a help-line to resolve disputes and independent medical review of claims.


However, Gray Davis reneged on a campaign promise to expand low-cost healthcare to parents of needy children due to budget constraints.


Gray Davis allowed non-disabled low-income people with HIV to be treated under Medi-Cal.


Gray Davis signed a law allowing people participating in needle exchange programs to be immune from criminal prosecution.


Gray Davis authorized a new hard-hitting anti-smoking ad that graphically depicts the damage caused by secondhand smoke.


In September 2002, Governor Gray Davis signed bills to ensure age verification was obtained for cigarettes and other tobacco products sold over the Internet or through the mail, ensured that all state taxes are being fully paid on tobacco purchases and increased the penalty for possessing or purchasing untaxed cigarettes.


Gray Davis signed legislation to expand smoke-free zones around public buildings.


Gray Davis approved legislation creating a telemarketing do-not-call list in 2003.


Gray Davis pushed for elimination of the minimum franchise tax paid by new businesses during the first two years of operation.


Gray Davis signed the first state law in the US in July 2002 to require automakers to limit auto emissions.


On March 25,1999, Gray Davis issued an executive order calling for the removal of MTBE from gasoline sold in the state.


In 2001, in order for gas prices to remain reasonable in California while removing MTBE, Davis asked President George W Bush to order the EPA to grant California a waiver on the federal minimum oxygen requirement.

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Bush did not grant the waiver and in 2002, Gray Davis issued an executive order reversing his earlier executive order.


Gray Davis's actions when it came to regulating business suggested that Gray Davis was a more moderate governor.


Gray Davis worked to kill a comprehensive bill opposed by banks and insurance companies to protect consumers' personal financial information.


Gray Davis approved $5.3 billion over five years for more than 150 transit and highway projects.


On January 17,2001, Gray Davis declared a state of emergency in response to the electricity crisis.


Gray Davis stepped in to buy power at highly unfavorable terms on the open market, since the California power companies were technically bankrupt and had no buying power.


Some critics on the left, such as Arianna Huffington, alleged that Gray Davis was lulled to inaction by campaign contributions from energy producers.


Some conservatives argued that Gray Davis signed overpriced energy contracts, employed incompetent negotiators and refused to allow electricity prices to rise for residences statewide much as they had in San Diego, which they argue could have given Gray Davis more leverage against the energy traders and encouraged more conservation.


On November 13,2003, shortly before leaving office, Gray Davis officially brought the energy crisis to an end by issuing a proclamation ending the state of emergency he declared on January 17,2001.


In 2006, the Los Angeles Times published an article that credited Gray Davis's signing of the long-term projects for preventing future blackouts and providing California a cheap supply of energy with the increasing costs of energy.


That report substantially vindicated Gray Davis, laying the blame for the energy disruption and raiding of California's treasury on deliberate tactics employed by some 25 energy trading companies, most of which were based in Texas.


Gray Davis's numbers declined back to the May 2001 level and remained about the same over the next year.


Gray Davis had tried to maintain a middle-of-the-road approach, but ultimately alienated many of the state's liberals who viewed him as too conservative and many conservatives who viewed him as too liberal.


Many were upset that in trying to balance the budget, Gray Davis cut spending for schools while increasing spending for prisons.


Gray Davis began fundraising for his 2002 reelection campaign early in his governorship.


Gray Davis raised $13.2 million in 1999 and $14.2 million in 2000, both unprecedented sums at the time so early in an elected term.


Gray Davis received large contributions from labor groups, environmental groups and individuals.


Gray Davis claimed that Riordan had attacked his record and that his campaign was defending his record.


Gray Davis was re-elected in the November 2002 general election following a long and bitter campaign against Simon, marked by accusations of ethical lapses on both sides and widespread voter apathy.


Gray Davis's campaign touted California's improving test scores, environmental protection, health insurance coverage for children and lower prescription drug costs for seniors.

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Gray Davis's campaign featured several negative ads that highlighted Simon's financial fraud scandal.


Gray Davis's campaign was better financed; Gray Davis had over $26 million more in campaign reserves than Simon in August 2002.


However, the Simon-Gray Davis race led in the lowest turnout percentage in modern gubernatorial history, allowing a lower than normal number of signatures required for a recall.


Gray Davis won the election, but the majority of voters disliked Gray Davis and did not approve of his job performance.


Gray Davis was widely criticized for responding to the budget crisis by reversing a decade of fee reductions on motor vehicles, a decision which his opponents repeatedly referenced.


Not long after Gray Davis signed a law allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, he was challenged to a recall election.


Gray Davis had signed legislation requiring employers to pay for medical insurance for workers and legislation granting domestic partners many of the same rights as married people, and vetoed legislation that would have given undocumented immigrants free tuition for community college.


Ultimately, Gray Davis did not have as much support from Hispanics and union members in the recall election as he did in his 2002 re-election.


Gray Davis was governor during the southern California fires of 2003, more commonly known as the Cedar Fire.


Gray Davis declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County and Ventura County in October 2003 and deployed the National Guard to help with disaster relief.


Gray Davis spent 1,778 days as governor and signed 5,132 bills out of 6,244, vetoing 1,112 bills.


Early in the runup to the recall election, Gray Davis called the recall election an "insult" to the eight million voters who had voted in the 2002 gubernatorial election.


Gray Davis tried to run "outside the recall circus" and to make himself appear gubernatorial and hard at work for California, and who had made improvements to education and healthcare.


In September 2003, Gray Davis conceded that he had lost touch with the voters and added that he was holding numerous townhall meetings in an effort to address the problem.


Gray Davis claimed that he would have rather raised taxes on the upper tax brackets instead of restoring vehicle registration fees and college student tuition.


Gray Davis called the recall a right-wing effort to rewrite history after having lost the election during the previous year.


Gray Davis blamed Republicans in the legislature and in Washington for many of the state's problems, while accepting some responsibility for those problems.


Gray Davis is the second governor in the history of the United States to have been recalled; the first was Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921.


Gray Davis mentioned what he defined as the accomplishments of his administration such as improvements in education, environmental protection, and health insurance for children.


Gray Davis said he would help Schwarzenegger in the transition and he later urged his staff to do the same.

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Gray Davis appeared prominently in the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.


Gray Davis indicated that he had no interest in running for governor again, although he had been urged to run by some Democrats.


Gray Davis was a guest lecturer at UCLA's School of Public Policy in 2006 alongside former Republican State Senator Jim Brulte.


Gray Davis wrote an introduction for a journalist's book on the Amber Alert system for missing children, a cause he championed.


On May 21,2009, Gray Davis was keynote speaker at the Columbia Law School graduation ceremony.


Gray Davis had a reputation of being beholden to supporters yet unable to satisfy them.


Gray Davis was hurt by redistricting in 2000 that made most districts safe for the incumbent party, limiting some legislators' need and willingness to compromise.


When Gray Davis was inaugurated as governor of California, he said, "I'm a governor, not a judge".


Gray Davis vowed to uphold all of the laws of the state, even the ones with which he personally disagreed.


Gray Davis defended Proposition 187 initially, but when it was declared unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, he did not appeal the decision.


Gray Davis's personality was often described as aloof and his political style cautious and calculated instead of charismatic.


Gray Davis's personality forced him to depend more on political skills, such as fundraising, to win elections.


The Chronicle commented that Gray Davis was often on the right side of the issues but that being on the right side of the issues alienated the electorate.


Gray Davis lacked charisma and seemed to be more passionate about winning campaigns than governing.


Gray Davis spent much of his campaign time talking about his accomplishments instead of providing voters with a vision.


Gray Davis met his wife-to-be, Sharon Ryer, while on an airplane tending to official business in 1978.