Michael Francis Easley

65th Unique Governor of the State of North Carolina - 2001 to 2009

Date Born: March 23, 1950

Date Died: TBD

Place Born: Rocky Mount, NC

Place Buried: TBD

Residence: Unknown

Occupation: Lawyer

Michael Francis Easley was born on March 23, 1950 in Rocky Mount, NC, the son of Henry Alexander Easley, Jr. and Huldah Marie Easley. He earned a degree with honors in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972. He then attended the North Carolina Central University School of Law, earning his J.D. degree, with honors, in 1976.

Soon after law school, Michael Francis Easley secured a post as an Assistant Prosecutor in the 13th Judicial District comprising Brunswick, Columbus, and Bladen Counties.

In 1980, Michael Francis Easley married Mary Pipines; they have one son.

In 1982, Michael Francis Easley was elected as District Attorney and soon earned a reputation as a fearless prosecutor, gained convictions against scores of drug dealers and over fifty corrupt public officials.

In 1990, Michael Francis Easley ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.

In 1992, Michael Francis Easley was elected Attorney General for the state of North Carolina, and he was re-elected in 1996.

In the 2000 general election, Michael Francis Easley was elected by the people as the next Governor of North Carolina. He was re-elected in 2004 and served two four-year terms from January 6, 2001 to January 10, 2009. Gov. Easley implemented tax reform by closing tax loopholes and called for a temporary half-cent tax increase to provide resources for education initiatives, such as “More at Four,” a program serving at-risk four year olds. Another education initiative aimed to take teacher pay above the national average. Environmental reforms and health care also marked the first term.

In August of 2005, Gov. Easley, long an advocate for a dedicated source of education funding, signed legislation to create the North Carolina Education Lottery, with proceeds to be allocated to construction for low-wealth schools, college scholarships, reduced class size, and the “More at Four” program.

Michael Francis (Mike) Easley (born March 23, 1950) is the current governor of the state of North Carolina. He is a Democrat and North Carolina's second Catholic governor. Thomas Burke was the first, though Easley is the first elected by popular vote.

Easley was raised a Roman Catholic in otherwise overwhelmingly Protestant Nash County, North Carolina. His father, Alexander Easley, owned one of the two big tobacco warehouses in the area. Easley earned a degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972. He then attended the North Carolina Central University School of Law, earning his J.D. degree in 1976.

Easley was elected District Attorney, one of the youngest ever in the state, in 1982.

A Democrat, Easley ran unsuccessfully in that party's primary for the US Senate; he lost to former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who himself lost to incumbent Jesse Helms. Easley was elected NC Attorney General in 1992, serving during the administration of Governor Jim Hunt.

In 2000, Easley ran to succeed the term-limited Hunt as Governor of North Carolina. He defeated incumbent Lt. Governor Dennis A. Wicker in the Democratic party primary, and then successfully challenged former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot (R) in the general election, to become the first Governor of North Carolina in 28 years to not be named James. Easley was re-elected in 2004, running against New Hanover County's state senator, Patrick Ballantine.

The early portions of Easley's term as Governor were marked by an emphasis on education reform. One of Easley's major programs was More at Four, a pre-kindergarten for at-risk children.

His tenure has faced budget shortfalls, tough economic times, and natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Easley has gotten mixed reviews on his handling of fiscal problems in the state. His supporters claim many of the budget shortfall situations were created before he even took office, during the Hunt administration, while his detractors have criticized his support of raising sales taxes multiple times to cover the cost of new state programs.

During his administration, Easley has not been afraid to confront the state legislature. Easley is the first North Carolina governor to use the power of veto, which voters gave the governor's office in 1996. First, in November 2002, Easley vetoed legislation related to unqualified appointments to various boards and commissions. In June 2003, he vetoed a bill that stripped the State Board of Education of its authority to set teacher standards. In August 2003, he vetoed HB 917 which raised fees charged by finance companies. In July 2004, he vetoed HB 429 which would have required local governments to make cash payments to billboard owners of up to five times the annual revenue generated by the billboard upon its removal. In March 2005, he vetoed SB 130 which would have conveyed state property. In Sept. 2005, he vetoed HB 706 which would have affected teacher standards.

Easley supported a controversial state-wide lottery, which was ultimately approved on August 31, 2005. He has stated that proceeds from the lottery will be used for much-needed educational programs.

Easley ran for a second term as Governor in 2004. He easily defeated Rickey Kipfer, his only opponent in the Democratic primary, and faced Republican former state senator Patrick Ballantine and Libertarian Barbara Howe in November 2004. Though the state voted for Republicans George W. Bush as President and Richard Burr as United States Senator, Easley won his second term as Governor, and Democrats reestablished control over both chambers of the state legislature (the House had been split equally between the two major parties since 2003).

Michael Francis Easley was born in Nash County, NC in 1950. The second of seven children, he was raised on a tobacco farm. Easley attended the University of North Carolina and received a bachelor's degree in political science with honors. In 1975, he graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he served as managing editor of the law review. In 1982, Easley was elected District Attorney. One of the state's youngest district attorneys ever, he was named among USA Today’s top "drug busters."

Elected NC Attorney General in 1992 and re-elected in 1996, he spearheaded efforts to reach the historic national tobacco settlement. Easley was elected governor in November 2000 and re-elected in 2004. He championed fiscal discipline to the state's finances while also increasing investments in education and infrastructure, key components to recruiting and retaining high quality jobs and industry for the state. Easley used targeted, performance-based initiatives that generated more than 25,000 new jobs and $4 billion in investment for the state, earning North Carolina the title “State of the Year” and No. 1 “Comeback Kid” from Southern Business and Development Magazine in 2005. Easley also reduced class size in grades K-3, implemented the first statewide pre-kindergarten program for at-risk children, launched an effort to reform the state’s high schools and introduced measures to improve North Carolina’s students performing at or above grade level on ABC tests. Michael Francis Easley and his wife Mary have one child, Michael, Jr.

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