Former Democratic Texas governor Mark White is best known for his work on education reform in Texas. White died at the age of 77 on Saturday.

During his single term from 1983 to 1987, White raised taxes to increase school funding and teacher pay and he also championed a "pass to play" law that required high school athletes to succeed in class.

Carol Donova, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democrats, says White's work on the "pass to play" law may have cost him the election. It was an unpopular move at the time but has been embraced through the years.

"Well you always hope people will to do the write thing and in this case White did and it may have cost him the election," Donovan said.

Other Democratic leaders in Dallas say White is an example of what the party should emulate as it looks to win seats across the state. White enlisted the help of Ross Perot as he reformed education and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says White's ability to bring people together to work on education will be his legacy.

"I think the entire state of Texas owes him deep gratitude," Jenkins said.

White also made headlines for passing "seatbelt laws" requiring drivers and front seat passengers to buckle up. The law was seen as an overstep in many rural parts of Texas, but years later White stood by the law saying it has saved thousands of lives.