Born: Aug. 23, 1933
Known for: Wilson served two terms (1991-99) as California's governor.
Background: An Illinois native, Wilson attended Yale University and served in the Marine Corps. He earned his law degree at the University of California. He began his political career in 1960 when he served as an advance man for Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign. The Republican Wilson served as state assemblyman, mayor of San Diego and a U.S. senator before defeating Dianne Feinstein in the 1990 gubernatorial election. Wilson grappled with the state's economic recession in the early '90s. He also battled with the Legislature during a record 64-day budget deadlock in 1992. He rebounded to easily win re-election over Democrat Kathleen Brown in 1994. Wilson, who now works for the law firm Bingham McCutchen, last month  was tapped to help negotiate a deal with the NBA for a new Kings arena at Cal Expo.
A highlight: Bee political columnist Dan Walters wrote in 1998, "It's difficult to summarize Wilson's governorship in a few words, simply because so much has happened. He's had his successes and failures, but he's always been engaged in the battle, easily the most activist governor of recent vintage."
-- Anthony Sorci