Expert in Florida Politics Recalls Gov. Askew’s Legacy

13-Mar-2014 10:00 AM EDT

University of Florida

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Former University of Florida Provost David Colburn says many political scientists and historians regard Reubin Askew as one of the country’s top 10 governors in the 20th century.

Askew, a 1956 graduate of UF’s law school, died today in Tallahassee at the age of 85.

Colburn, now interim director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at UF, said he and Askew talked regularly. Colburn wrote a couple of books about Florida gubernatorial politics.

“He was enormously respected around the country … a lot of people thought of him as a presidential candidate,” Colburn said. “If he had run when Jimmy Carter ran, he would have probably been elected.”

Askew described himself as “an apostle of hope, not a prophet of doom,” Colburn said, and that might be the best way to remember him.

The Reubin O’D Askew Institute operated at UF from 1994 until last year as a statewide forum for the citizens and policy leaders of the state, and is now part of the Graham Center. Colburn can be reached at 352-846-1575 or

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