Michael Francis Easley

65th 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 (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).

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