Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, who supported racial equality and tax reform during his two terms in the 1970s, died early Thursday aged 85.
The Associated Press says Ron Sachs, a former aide, confirmed that Askew died surrounded by family members at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
Askew was known, along with former presidents Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Bill Clinton of Arkansas, as a "New South" governor — a term used to describe the influx of southern governors elected in the 1970s and 1980s who promoted progressive ideals toward education, the environment, and economic growth.
After defeating the incumbent Republican Gov. Claude R Kirk Jr. in 1970, Askew implemented a five percent corporate tax and pushed for ethics-in-government laws such as the "Sunshine Amendment" mandating financial disclosure by public officials. He also appointed the first black justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Joseph Hatchett.
Askew campaigned briefly for the presidency in 1984 but ended up dropping out after finishing low in a New Hampshire primary.
"He helped lead Florida to enormous growth and was a trailblazer for good government. His advocacy for Florida's sunshine laws was a landmark moment for ethics and transparency in government, and that legacy continues to endure," said Florida Governor Rick Scott in a statement.