Lamar High School
Former Democratic governor of Texas
BiographyMark Wells White (born 1940) is an American lawyer and a former Democratic governor of Texas.
Born in Longview, the seat of Gregg County, White attended Baylor University in Waco, and was a member of the prestigious Tryon Coterie Club, now Phi Delta Theta (Texas Lambda Chapter) at Baylor. He graduated with a law degree in 1965. After spending time practicing law in a private practice in Houston (Harris County), White served as the state's assistant attorney general. In 1969, White was appointed as Texas secretary of state under Governor Dolph Briscoe.
White served as secretary of state until 1977, when he resigned to run for state attorney general, where he served until 1983. In the 1978 general election, White defeated the Republican choice, James A. Baker, III, a Houston lawyer, businessman, and power broker affiliated with the Bushes of Houston.
White ran for governor in 1982 against incumbent William Perry "Bill" Clements, Jr., Texas' first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He defeated Clements over concerns about the governor's poor economic numbers and lack of support from minority groups. However, four years later, White was defeated by Clements, who opted for a second, nonconsecutive term. Some believe that the unpopular "no-pass, no-play" policies of the White administration sealed his doom.
White served as governor during Texas' sesquicentennial in 1986 and oversaw a number of the celebrations concerning that anniversary. He also made a cameo appearance in the popular CBS drama series Dallas. White attempted to run for governor again in 1990, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Dorothy Ann Willis Richards (1933-2006), winner of the primary runoff and the general election.
White, who practices law, is chairman of the board for the Houston Independent School District Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports the public schools.