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  White, Mark
NameMark White
Houston, Texas , United States
Born March 17, 1940
DiedAugust 05, 2017 (77 years)
ContributorNot in Public Domain
Last ModifedRBH
Aug 06, 2017 05:51pm

Born in Henderson, Texas, in Rusk County, White attended Baylor University in Waco, and was a member of the prestigious Tryon Coterie Club, now Phi Delta Theta (Texas Lambda Chapter) at Baylor. He graduated with a law degree in 1965. After spending time practicing law in a private practice in Houston (Harris County), White served as the state's assistant attorney general. In 1973, White was appointed as Texas Secretary of State under Governor Dolph Briscoe.

White served as secretary of state until 1977, when he resigned to run for state attorney general, where he served until 1983. In the 1978 general election, White defeated the Republican choice, James A. Baker, III, a Houston lawyer, businessman, and power broker affiliated with the Bushes of Houston. As the state's chief enforcement officer, he co-chaired the Federal-State Enforcement Coordinating Committee and was a member of the Governor's Organized Crime Prevention Council. On the national level, he was elected Chairman of the Southern Conference of Attorneys General in May of 1981.

White ran for governor in 1982 against fellow Democrat Bob Armstrong, who was the outgoing state land commissioner, and then the incumbent Bill Clements, Texas' first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He defeated Clements over concerns about the governor's poor economic numbers and lack of support from minority groups (54% to 46%). As the state's forty-third chief executive from January 18, 1983 to January 20, 1987, White worked to "preserve and enhance...resources so that Texas would not fall back, but go forward as a state of the future." His main concerns were the economy and education. By focusing on Texas' resources, White was able to work on many problems facing the state in the early 1980s. The Texas economy during the early and mid 1980s were volatile. The price of oil declined and pushed Texas into a recession. This led Governor White to "lay the groundwork for a more diversified economy--one less reliant upon the..swings of a single industry." Governor White sought to improve education, transportation, water resources, law enforcement, and taxes to lure new industry to Texas. Education was an essential factor for White. When he took office, Texas was ranked as one of the lowest performing states for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) also in teachers' salaries. After taking office, White immediately appointed a committee on Public Education, called a special session of the legislature in 1984, and worked with lawmakers to pass the Educational Opportunity Act (EOA). The EOA was committed to building the finest public education system in the country. Through White's work, Texas saw the desired results. SAT scores increased by twelve points, Texas first graders improved in statewide tests and teacher salaries increased by $5,000. By focusing on education, White was able to make Texas "a state of the future" with regard to its most important resource, its children. Through his diligent work as Governor of Texas, many of the problems of the present and future were alleviated. However, four years later, White was defeated by Clements in their 1986 rematch (52% to 46%), who opted for a second, nonconsecutive term. Some believe that the wildly unpopular "no-pass, no play" policies of the White administration, which prohibited any high school student athletes from participating in varsity sports if they were failing any single element of their overall class load, sealed the doom of a second term.

Among White's advisors as governor were the Dallas industrialist H. Ross Perot and former State Senator Max Sherman, who left after a brief stint in the administration to become dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin.

White served as governor during Texas' sesquicentennial in 1986 and oversaw a number of the celebrations concerning that anniversary. He also made a cameo appearance in the popular CBS drama series Dallas. Following his departure from office on January 20, 1987, White worked for the law firm Keck, Mahin & Cate. White attempted to run for governor again in 1990, but he was defeated in the Democratic primary by then-State Treasurer Ann Richards, who then defeated then-State Attorney General Jim Mattox in a runoff election and the Republican Clayton W. Williams, Jr., in the general election.

White, who practices law, is chairman of the board for the Houston Independent School District Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports the public schools. In recent years, White endorsed Houston City Council candidate Jolanda Jones in the 2003 and 2007 city elections; the latter endorsement led to winning an at-large seat.


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 9.33330 Average

Son Andrew White 0000-

  03/13/1990 TX Governor - D Primary Lost 19.35% (-19.61%)
  11/04/1986 TX Governor Lost 46.04% (-6.66%)
  05/03/1986 TX Governor - D Primary Won 53.76% (+31.07%)
  11/02/1982 TX Governor Won 53.21% (+7.27%)
  05/01/1982 TX Governor - D Primary Won 44.94% (+14.41%)
  11/07/1978 TX Attorney General Won 55.13% (+11.04%)
  05/06/1978 TX Attorney General - D Primary Won 52.21% (+4.42%)
TX District 07 - D Primary - Mar 06, 2018 D Alex Triantaphyllis
TX US President - D Primary - Mar 04, 2008 D Barack Obama