Tag Archive: Gloria Deukmejian


We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

As a member of the California Governor’s Press Office team, all I wanted was a good wire-service photo, just one-awesome still … and okay maybe some video too.

And that photo and related earned-media would capture/cover Governor Duke and Mrs. Duke greeting the Prince of Wales and the Princess at Expo ’86 in Vancouver, B.C.diananews

Guess the best-laid plans of PR dudes/dudettes and mice often go astray …

… or to be more precise, fainted on the floor of the California Pavilion.

Princess Diana, the ever-telegenic Princess of Wales, ended up lying unconscious on the floor of our pavilion in front of dozens of American, Canadien and always charming Fleet Street reporters and photographers about 50-feet away from my loafers.

Say “goodbye” to one great photo; enter an international crisis communications incident relating to probably the most famous celebrity on the planet at the time in about four nanoseconds.

Out Cold on The Floor of the California Pavilion

“She (Princess Diana) was walking along and had gotten to the bicycle exhibit. It appeared to me that she moved closer to her husband (Prince Camilla Parker Bowles) and sort of tapped him on the arm and was beginning to say something when she fainted – very gracefully.” – California Governor George Deukmejian

It was an unusually warm day in early May in Vancouver, B.C. The Pacific Northwest is considered to be situated a temperate-maritime climate (read: clouds and rain), but on this day El Sol was high in the sky and the temps were mucho calor.

The British media described the Royals May 6 schedule as “heavy and relentless” including stops at the Saudi Arabian, Russian, British, American and the California pavilions. They even labeled our pavilion as “stuffy” even though “The Californias” was largely designed by Disney.

Prince Charlie and Lady Di were at the height of their global celebrity, five years after their supposedly fairy tale wedding ceremony. Literally thousands of gawkers were lined-up outside for a mere glimpse of the royals.

The photographers were particularly out in force, including undoubtedly some of the same Paparazzi types that later contributed to Princess Diana’s ultimate demise in 1997.

As it turns out, the geography of Expo ’86 grounds and its dozens of pavilions mandated that the California pavilion was last on the royal couple’s exhausting schedule. That’s where Governor Deukmejian, Gloria Deukmejian, Chief of Staff Steve Merksamer and the author of Almost DailyBrett waited.georgegloria

Another factor that contributed to my desire for a super photo of the Duke and the Prince/Princess was that 1986 was a gubernatorial election year in the Golden State. We were running way in front of our two-time challenger, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, but nonetheless we were following the George Deukmejian Laws of Politics:

  1. Take Nothing for Granted;
  2. Always Run As If You Are Running Behind

Even though Expo ’86 was not a campaign event and easily qualified as official gubernatorial business promoting California as superb vacation destination, there was no denying the political implications in the traditional blue state.

Was The Princess in “Delicate” Condition?

“We have certainly heard nothing about her being pregnant though I am sure she will be given a check-up by her doctors when she returns home just to make sure.” — Vic Chapman, Buckingham Palace press secretary

Once the princess slumped to the floor of our pavilion, the Royal Family folks summoned the doctor and his ammonia inhalants. The media were immediately ushered outside among the throngs. The governor, Mrs. Deukmejian, Steve Merksamer and yours truly were moved into a holding room.

We were just in the process of being debriefed by the governor, when a Buckingham Palace type entered and announced that the Prince of Wales wished to continue the tour sans his fainted spouse … and you wonder why the marriage went kaputt 10 years later?

The governor expressed his concern to Charlie Prince of Wales, who gave him a look that translated, “This woman is embarrassing me again.” It was time to get back to the tour, which was cut short the moment Diana was revived.

Outside Buckingham Palace press secretary Vic Chapman was fending off the Fleet Street piranha inquiring whether the Princess was preggers. He insisted that was indeed not the case, which spurred further questions including: “How would you Mr. XY Chromosomes know?”

Just as the good government is good politics, it is also sound expedient politics to simply show compassion to someone, who seemed to break under the heat and the pressure. I was proud of my boss: California’s Governor George Deukmejian.

Alas I can’t say the same for Prince Charlie, who was personally mortified and was seemingly unconcerned about his spouse.

He ultimately opted for ground beef (e.g., Camilla) as opposed to filet mignon (e.g., Diana).

It is still troubling nearly 30 years later to reflect on Diana prone on the floor of the California pavilion; it is far worse to contemplate her fatal car crash as she was chased by the Paparazzi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaxGcxfdPQ

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-05-07/news/mn-3572_1_princess-diana

http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-07/news/26051483_1_diana-princess-royal-visit-charles-and-diana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales

 

%d bloggers like this: