Los Angeles Times

George Deukmejian, popular two-term California governor, dies at 89

LOS ANGELES - 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 Tuesday. He was 89.

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 resume before winning election as governor and emerging as the most prominent Armenian-American politician in the United States.

His identification with Armenians, who were victims of a genocide during the early 20th century at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, would infuse his life with a determination to ensure the rule of law.

Never, during a career that spanned three decades, did he waver from his law-and-order crusade or his passion for public safety.

Steven Merksamer, Deukmejian's one-time chief of staff and longtime adviser, said that one way to understand his former boss

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