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May 2012 Annual Dinner

May 18, 2012


On May 17, FORR founders and guests gathered at the California Club to hear Steven Hayward interview Former Governor and United States Senator Pete Wilson about his forty years of public service working alongside Ronald Reagan. While Reagan was governor of California, Pete Wilson was a reliable ally in the California State Assembly. While Reagan was President, Senator Wilson was a critical ally in the United States Senate and key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Governor Wilson shared personal accounts of his thirty year relationship with Reagan, speaking to Reagan's vision, determination, and collegiality especially during Ronald Reagan's years as President of the United States. Governor Wilson remains to this day a values based leader in the tradition of President Ronald Reagan, and FORR Founders and guests were fortunate to hear his observations on Reagan based upon Governor Wilson's years in office along side him.


Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson was California's thirty-sixth chief executive, serving as Governor from 1991 to 1999. Wilson previously served eight years as a United States Senator (1983-1991), eleven years as mayor of San Diego (1971-1982), and five years as a California state assemblyman (1967-1961). He left office with a public approval rating identical to that received by Ronald Reagan at the conclusion of his service as governor.


Wilson's eight years as governor saw California emerge from the depths of recession to a resounding economic recovery. Inheriting the state's worst economy since the Great Depression, he insisted on strict budget discipline and rehabilitation of the state's then hostile environment for investment and job creation. Among the many pro-business accomplishments of his administration, he provided for market-based unsubsidized health coverage for employees of small businesses, and obtained anti-fraud measures that drove down workers' compensation premiums by 40 percent. He also successfully pushed for enactment of sweeping and historic welfare and education reforms.


He had received the Woodrow Wilson Institute award for Distinguished Public Service and the Patriots Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Wilson is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Herber Hoover Institution of Stanford University and sits on the governing boards of the National D-Day Museum, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and the Richard M. Nixon and Birthplace Foundation.


Governor Wilson attended Yale University on an ROTC scholarship, earned a bachelor's degree in 1955, and served three years as a Marine Corps infantry officer. He earned a law degree from Boalt Hall in 1962.


Steven F. Hayward

Steven F. Hayward is the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC and Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and an M.A. in Government from Claremont Graduate School, and has been a visiting professor at Georgetown University and Ashland University. He is the author of a two-volume narrative history of Ronald Reagan and his effect on American political life, The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980 and The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989 (Crown Forum Books). National review has called the first volume "grand and fascinating history". William Niskanen, chairman of Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, called volume 2 "simply the best history of the Reagan presidency".


Hayward also writes for the National Review, Reason, the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, The Public Interest, the Claremont Review of Books, and Policy Review. His newspaper articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune.

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