George Deukmejian was a gentle man  with a spine of iron who stood up for a civil society under the rule of law and order. The “Iron Duke” was first and foremost concerned about safety and crime issues as reported in many of the remembrances of his life but he also was an advocate for the taxpayer.

Deukmejian minded the taxpayers pocket book vetoing tax raising legislation that by his own account saved the state taxpayers $7 billion, staring down a large deficit  when he took office without raising taxes relying instead on a growing economy to get the treasury out of a fiscal hole, and, playing a role in defending Proposition 13 when a constitutional challenge to the tax cutting law made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. 

Following his final term as governor, he joined the law firm of Sidley and Austin. The firm took over the defense of Proposition 13 on behalf of the Los Angeles County assessor who served as defendant in the case. Deukmejian offered advice to the Sidley and Austin attorney, Rex Lee, former Solicitor General of the United States, who argued the case successfully defending Prop 13 before the Supreme Court.

Deukmejian retired from public service after his term as governor but higher office was not unimaginable. George H. W. Bush inquired about Deukmejian’s interest in seeking the vice-presidential nod on a ticket with Bush. Dan Quayle eventually got the position, a surprise to the Iron Duke who knew he would have made a stronger candidate. 

Deukmejian’s legacy as public servant may have best been summarized by a release from Steve Merksamer’s law firm, Merksamer served as Governor Deukmejian’s chief of staff. Of Deukmejian the release stated, “After 28 years in public service, he left state service untouched by scandal, with high public approval and a reputation for integrity, decency, humility, courage, and effective leadership. “