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