Houston Flournoy, a political-science professor who spent 14 years in California state politics, died Jan. 7, 2008, of heart failure. He was 78.
A graduate of Cornell, Flournoy earned a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton in 1956. In 1957, he moved to Pomona College and quickly earned tenure. In 1960, he successfully ran for the California state assembly. At the end of his second term, Flournoy entered the 1966 race for state controller and beat the Democratic incumbent Alan Cranston, who then became a longtime U.S. senator.
Flournoy was the unlikely winner of the Republican primary for governor in 1974, and then lost to the Democratic candidate, Jerry Brown. Brown beat Flournoy by approximately 50 percent to 48 percent of the vote. The election occurred during the Watergate scandal and Brown repeatedly likened Flournoy (a moderate Republican in the tradition of former Gov. Earl Warren) to former President Nixon and sitting Gov. Reagan. President Ford’s pardon of Nixon only weeks before the election hurt Flournoy.
Flournoy then joined the USC faculty, and remained for more than two decades as a professor of public administration.
Flournoy is survived by three children and two grandchildren.