Reubin Askew

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Reubin O'Donovan Askew

In office
January 5, 1971 – January 1979
Preceded by Claude Kirk
Succeeded by Bob Graham

Chairman of the National Governors Association
In office
January 23, 1977 – September 9, 1977
Preceded by Cecil Andrus
Succeeded by William Milliken

Florida State Senator for District 2
In office
November 6, 1962 – November 3, 1970
Preceded by Philip D. Beall
Succeeded by W. D. Childers

Florida State Representative for Escambia County
In office
November 4, 1958 – November 6, 1962
Preceded by J. B. Hopkins
Succeeded by Gordon W. Wells

United States Trade Representative
In office
October 1, 1979 – December 31, 1980
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Robert Strauss
Succeeded by Bill Brock

Born September 11, 1928
Muskogee, Oklahoma
Died March 13, 2014 (aged 85)
Tallahassee, Florida
Resting place Bayview Memorial Park in Pensacola
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Donna Lou Harper Askew

(born 1934)
(married 1956-2014, his death)

Children Two adopted children

Leon G. and Alberta O'Donovan Askew (divorced c. 1930)

Alma mater Pensacola High School

Florida State University (BA)
University of Florida Law School (Gainesville)

Occupation Attorney; Professor

Military Service
Service/branch (1) United States Army

(2) United States Air Force

Years of service (1) 1946–1948

(2) Korean War

Rank (1)Sergeant

(1)Military intelligence officer

Reubin O'Donovan Askew (September 11, 1928 – March 13, 2014) was the 37th governor of his adopted U.S. state of Florida, with service from 1971 to 1979. His "New South" administration stressed civil rights in the post-segregation years, enactment of the state's first corporate tax, and the "Sunshine Amendmen," which requires public officials and candidates to provide full financial transparency.[1] A Presbyterian, he was particularly known for his personal integrity.

Though born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Askew moved to Florida in 1937 with his mother, the former Alberta O'Donovan (1897-1989), a native of Pensacola. His parents were divorced when he was two years of age.[1] He was engaged in the private practice of law in Pensacola in Escambia County in the Florida Panhandle. He obtained a bachelor's degree from Florida State University in the capital city of Tallahassee and his legal credentials from the Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He was a United States Army military intelligence officer from 1946 to 1948. During the Korean War, he served in the United States Air Force.[1] While in Pensacola, he was elected in 1958 to the Florida House of Representatives and in 1962 to the state Senate. In 1970, as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, he handily unseated the controversial one-term incumbent Republican Claude Kirk, for whom then U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew campaigned in another heavily Democratic year. Agnew polled 984,305 votes (56.9 percent) to 746,243 (43.1 percent. In 1974, he defeated the Republican Jerry Thomas, 61 to 39 percent, to become the first Florida governor to serve two four-year consecutive terms.

Askew is widely considered to have been one of his state's best governors; in 2014, The Tampa Bay Times ranked him the second best governor in state history and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, rated him one of the country's top ten governors of the 20th century.[2]> In 1972, Askew was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, which met in Miami Beach. He declined an offer to be the running-mate with party nominee George McGovern of South Dakota, who finally selected the Kennedy in-law, Sargent Shriver for the nod.

After he left the governorship, Askew was from 1979 to 1981 the United States Trade Representative under President Jimmy Carter. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 but withdrew after finishing last in the New Hampshire primary. The nomination went to Walter Mondale, a former U.S. Senator for Minnesota, who had been the vice president under Carter, clinched the nomination, only to lose forty-nine states to Republican Ronald W. Reagan. Askew later taught at the public universities of Florida.

He died in Tallahasssee of a stroke at the age of eighty-five and is interred along with his mother at Bayview Memorial Park in Pensacola.[1]

The Reubin O'D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University is named in his honor.[3] Interstate 110 in Pensacola is named the Reubin O'Donovan Askew Parkway.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Reubin O'Donovan Askew (1928-2014) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed March 24, 2021.
  2. Steve Bosquet (July 29, 2013). Times may have changed, but former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew hasn't. The Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved on March 24, 2021.
  3. Reubin Askew - Biography - IMDb, accessed March 24, 2021.