Rick Perry

For people with similar names, see Richard Perry (disambiguation) and James Perry.
Rick Perry
47th Governor of Texas
In office
December 21, 2000  January 20, 2015
Lieutenant Bill Ratliff
David Dewhurst
Preceded by George W. Bush
Succeeded by Greg Abbott
39th Lieutenant Governor of Texas
In office
January 19, 1999  December 21, 2000
Governor George W. Bush
Preceded by Bob Bullock
Succeeded by Bill Ratliff
9th Agriculture Commissioner of Texas
In office
January 15, 1991  January 19, 1999
Governor Ann Richards
George W. Bush
Preceded by Jim Hightower
Succeeded by Susan Combs
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 64th district
In office
January 8, 1985  January 8, 1991
Preceded by Joe Hanna
Succeeded by John Cook
Personal details
Born James Richard Perry
(1950-03-04) March 4, 1950
Paint Creek, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1989)
Republican (1989–present)
Spouse(s) Anita Thigpen (1982–present)
Children 2
Alma mater Texas A&M University, College Station (BS)
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1972–1977[1]
Rank Captain
Unit 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron

James Richard "Rick" Perry (born March 4, 1950) is an American politician who was 47th Governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015. A Republican, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become president. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

Perry was elected to full gubernatorial terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and is the fourth Texas governor (after Allan Shivers, Price Daniel and John Connally) to serve three terms. With a tenure in office of 14 years, 30 days, Perry was, at the time he left office, the second longest-serving current U.S. governor (after Terry Branstad of Iowa). Perry was chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2008 and again in 2011.[2] Perry ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president in 2012 and 2016.

Early life

A fifth-generation Texan, Perry was born and raised in Paint Creek, Haskell County in West Texas, the son of cotton farmers Joseph Ray Perry and the former Amelia June Holt. Perry's ancestry is almost entirely English, dating as far back as the original Thirteen Colonies. His family has been in Texas since before the Texas Revolution.[3][4]

His father, a Democrat, was a long-time Haskell County commissioner and school board member. Perry has said that his interest in politics probably began in November 1961, when his father took him to the funeral of U.S. Representative Sam Rayburn.

Perry was in the Boy Scouts (BSA) and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.[5][6] The BSA has honored Perry with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[7] Perry graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1968.


Upon graduation of high school, Perry attended Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, was elected senior class social secretary, and was also elected as one of A&M's five yell leaders.[8][9] He graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal science.[10][11]

Perry said that the Corps of Cadets gave him the discipline to complete his animal sciences degree and earn a commission in the Air Force. In a 1989 interview he said that "I was probably a bit of a free spirit, not particularly structured real well for life outside of a military regime, I would have not lasted at Texas Tech or the University of Texas. I would have hit the fraternity scene and lasted about one semester."[10] Ultimately, Perry was elected a yell leader—a student that leads Aggie fans in a series of "yells" during athletic events or other school events—and social secretary for his class.[10]

First jobs

In the early 1970s, Perry interned during several summers with the Southwestern Company, as a door-to-door book salesman. "I count my time working for Dortch Oldham [president of the Southwestern Company] as one of the most important formative experiences of my life", Perry said in 2010. "There is nothing that tests your commitment to a goal like getting a few doors closed in your face." He said that "Mr. Oldham taught legions of young people to communicate quickly, clearly and with passion, a lesson that has served me well in my life since then."[12]

Upon graduation from college in 1972, Perry was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and completed pilot training in February 1974. He was then assigned as a C-130 pilot to the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base. Perry's duties included two-month overseas rotations at RAF Mildenhall in England and Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. His missions included a 1974 U.S. State Department drought relief effort in Mali, Mauritania and Chad, and two years later, earthquake relief in Guatemala.[13] He left the United States Air Force in 1977 with the rank of Captain, returned to Texas, and went into business farming cotton with his father.[14]

Early political career

Texas Legislature

In 1984, Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat from district 64, which included his home county of Haskell. He served on the House Appropriations and Calendars committees during his three two-year terms in office. He befriended fellow freshman state representative Lena Guerrero of Austin, a staunch liberal Democrat who endorsed Perry's reelection bid in 2006.

Perry was part of the "Pit Bulls", a group of Appropriations members who sat on the lower dais in the committee room (or "pit") who pushed for austere state budgets during the 1980s.[15] At one point, The Dallas Morning News named him one of the ten most effective members of the legislature.[16]

In 1987, Perry voted for a $5.7 billion tax increase proposed by Republican governor Bill Clements.[17] Perry supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries and worked in an unspecified capacity for Gore's campaign in Texas.[18] On September 29, 1989, Perry announced that he was switching parties, becoming a Republican.[19]

Agriculture Commissioner

In 1990, as a newly minted Republican, Perry challenged Jim Hightower, the incumbent Democratic Agriculture Commissioner. Karl Rove was Perry's campaign manager.[20]

In the Republican primary on March 13, 1990, Perry polled 276,558 votes (47%), with Richard McIver garnering 176,976 votes (30%) and Gene L. Duke, who placed third, polling 132,497 votes (23%).[21] Since Perry fell shy of the necessary 50% to win outright, a runoff was held between Perry and McIver set on April 10, 1990. In the runoff, he emerged victorious, garnering 96,649 votes (69%) to McIver's 43,921 votes (31%).[22]

During 1990, Hightower's office was embroiled in an FBI investigation into corruption and bribery. Three aides were convicted in 1993 of using public funds for political fundraising, although Hightower himself was not found to be involved in the wrongdoings.[23] Perry narrowly defeated Hightower in November 1990, garnering 1,864,463 votes (49%) to Hightower's 1,820,145 votes (48%).[24]

According to the book Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, Rove raised $3 million to raise Perry's profile, "while tarnishing the name of Jim Hightower" resulting in Perry's name becoming a "household name in Texas—and Hightower's name synonymous with corruption".[25]

As Agriculture Commissioner, Perry was responsible for promoting the sale of Texas farm produce to other states and foreign nations, and for supervising the calibration of weights and measures, such as gasoline pumps and grocery store scales.[26]

In April 1993, Perry, while serving as Texas agriculture commissioner, expressed support for the effort to reform the nation's health care, describing it as "most commendable".[27] The health care plan, first revealed in September, was ultimately unsuccessful due to Republican congressional opposition.[28][29][30][31][32] In 2005, after being questioned on the issue by a potential opponent in the Republican governor primary, Perry said that he expressed his support only in order to get Clinton to pay more attention to rural health care.[33]

In 1994, Perry was reelected Agriculture Commissioner by a large margin, getting 2,546,287 votes (62 percent) to Democrat Marvin Gregory's 1,479,692 (36 percent). Libertarian Clyde L. Garland received the remaining 85,836 votes (2 percent).[34] Gregory, a chicken farmer from Sulphur Springs, Texas, was on the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority with Perry in the early nineties as a Republican, but became a Democrat before running against Perry in 1994.[35]

Lieutenant Governor

In 1998, Perry chose not to seek a third term as Agriculture Commissioner, running instead for Lieutenant Governor to succeed the retiring Democrat Bob Bullock. During this election, Perry had a notable falling out with his previous top political strategist Karl Rove, which began the much-reported rivalry between the Bush and Perry camps.[36] Perry polled 1,858,837 votes (50.04 percent) to the 1,790,106 (48.19 percent) cast for Democrat John Sharp of Victoria, who had relinquished the Comptroller's position after two terms to seek the lieutenant governorship. Libertarian Anthony Garcia polled another 65,150 votes (1.75 percent).[34] Perry became the state's first Republican lieutenant governor since Reconstruction, taking office on January 19, 1999.

Governor of Texas

President George W. Bush and Texas Governor Rick Perry shake hands September 27, 2005, after a question-and-answer session at the Port Arthur airport. Port Arthur suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Rita.

Perry assumed the office of governor on December 21, 2000, following the resignation of George W. Bush—who was preparing to become President of the United States.[5] He won the office in his own right in the 2002 gubernatorial election, where he received 58% of votes to Laredo oilman and businessman Tony Sanchez's 40%.[34] He was re-elected in the 2006 gubernatorial election against three major opponents, polling 39% of votes against runner-up former U.S. Congressman Chris Bell of Houston with 30%. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Perry became the first Texas governor to be elected to three four-year terms, polling 55% of votes to former Houston Mayor Bill White's 42%.

In his three gubernatorial campaigns, Perry received hard-money campaign contributions of $102 million, half of which came from 204 donors.[37]

In the 2001 legislative session, Perry set a record for his use of the veto, rejecting 82 acts, more than any other governor in any single legislative session in the history of the state since Reconstruction.[38][39][40]

In 2003, Perry formed the non-profit organization, the OneStar Foundation, designed to connects such the non-profits with resources and expertise to accomplish their missions and to promote volunteerism. He tapped the state Republican chairman Susan Weddington, who stepped down from that position after six years, as the president of OneStar. She left in 2009, and he chose Elizabeth Seale as her successor.[41][42]

Fiscal policies

Governor Perry speaking at the Houston Technology Center in 2010
Rick Perry giving a speech at Pioneer Hi-Bred conference

In his presidential campaign, Perry highlighted the economic success Texas achieved under his governorship, although the true success of his policies has been questioned.[43][44][45][46][47][48] A proclaimed proponent of fiscal conservatism, Perry has often campaigned on job growth and tax issues, such as his opposition to creating a state income tax. Perry refused in 2002 to promise not to raise taxes as governor, and in the following years did propose or approve various tax and debt[49] increases.[50][51][52][53] In 2009, Perry signed Grover Norquist's pledge to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes".

Texas began borrowing money in 2003 to pay for roads and will owe $17.3 billion by the end of 2012, increasing total state debt, from $13.4 billion in 2001 to $37.8 billion in 2011.[54] The state's public finance authority sold $2 billion in bonds for unemployment benefits, and it's authorized to sell $1.5 billion more if necessary. Texas federal borrowing topped $1.6 billion in October 2010, before the bond sales.[55]

Texans voted November 8, 2011, for a Water Works Bill with an additional $6 billion of debt and against new tax breaks for landowners.[56] A Republican on the Natural Resources Committee laments "we couldn't get the votes", which would break Perry's pledge not to raise taxes.[57]

In 2003, Perry signed legislation that created the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has since given $435 million in grants to businesses. The New York Times reported that many of the companies receiving grants, or their chief executives, have made contributions to Perry's campaigns or to the Republican Governors Association.[58] Perry was criticized for supporting corporate tax breaks and other incentives, while the state government was experiencing budget deficits.[59][60]

As Governor of Texas, Perry received grades of B in 2004,[61][62] B in 2006,[63][64] B in 2008,[65][66] B in 2010,[67][68] C in 2012,[69][70] and B in 2014[71][72] from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, in their biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors.


As governor, Perry has been an outspoken opponent of federal health-care reform proposals and of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, describing the latter as "socialism on American soil".[73] His focus in Texas was on tort reform, signing a bill in 2003 that restricted non-economic damages in medical malpractice judgments.[74] Perry touted this approach in his Presidential campaign, although independent analysts have concluded that it has failed to increase the supply of physicians or limit health-care costs in Texas.[73][75]

During Perry's governorship, Texas rose from second to first among states with the highest proportion of uninsured residents at 26%, and had the lowest level of access to prenatal care in the U.S. Perry and the state legislature cut Medicaid spending.[73][76] The Los Angeles Times wrote that under Perry, "working Texans increasingly have been priced out of private healthcare while the state's safety net has withered."[76]

Perry's office said that Texas represents a model private-sector approach to health-care. His spokeswoman stated that "Texas does provide an adequate safety net to those truly in need... and many individuals simply choose not to purchase healthcare coverage."[76]

Perry is pro-life and has signed bills with rules or restrictions for abortion procedures and funding for them.[77]

In December 2011, Perry said he had undergone a "transformation" and now opposed all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. The next day he clarified that he would allow an exception for abortions that would save a mother's life.[78][79]

In February 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating that Texas girls receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against some strains of the human papilloma virus, a contributing factor to some forms of cervical cancer.[80] Following the move, news outlets reported various apparent financial connections between Perry and the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck.[80][81] Merck's political action committee has contributed $28,500 since 2001 to Perry's campaigns.[82] The order was criticized by some parents and social conservatives, and a lawsuit was filed later that month.[83] In May 2007, the Texas Legislature passed a bill undoing the order; Perry did not veto the bill, saying the veto would have been overruled, but blamed lawmakers who supported the bill for the deaths of future cancer victims.[84]

In 2011, Perry both had adult stem cell surgery in Houston and started "laying the groundwork" for the commercialization of the adult stem cell industry in Texas.[85][86]


Governor Perry speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland

Perry grew up in the United Methodist Church. He and his family were members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin until 2010, when they began attending Lake Hills Church,[87] a non-denominational evangelical megachurch in western Travis County. Perry told the Austin American-Statesman that he began attending Lake Hills because it was close to the rental home where he and his wife lived while the Governor's Mansion was being renovated.[88]

In 2006, Perry stated that he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and that those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior will go to hell. A couple of days later, he clarified, "I don't know that there's any human being that has the ability to interpret what God and his final decision-making is going to be."[89]

In his 2008 book On My Honor, Perry expressed his views on the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. "Let's be clear: I don't believe government, which taxes people regardless of their faith, should espouse a specific faith. I also don't think we should allow a small minority of atheists to sanitize our civil dialogue on religious references."[90]

In June 2011, Perry proclaimed August 6 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting, inviting other governors to join him in a prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association in Houston.[91][92] The event was criticized as going beyond prayer and fasting to include launching Perry's presidential campaign.[93]

Perry has called himself "a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect", and has expressed support for its teaching alongside evolution in Texas schools, but has also said that "educators and local school officials, not the governor, should determine science curriculum".[94]


Perry has repeatedly attacked the Robin Hood plan to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. In 2005, following rejection of Perry's proposal to replace the Robin Hood plan, Perry vetoed all funding for public schools for the 2007–2008 biennium, saying he would not "approve an education budget that shortchanges teacher salary increases, textbooks, education technology, and education reforms. And I cannot let $2 billion sit in some bank account when it can go directly to the classroom".[95]

Following a second rejection of Perry's bill, Perry asked John Sharp to head a task force charged with preparing a bipartisan education plan, which was subsequently adopted.[96][97]

In 2001, Perry expressed his pride in the enactment of the statute extending in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who meet Texas' residency requirements. It also required the undocumented students to pledge to apply for permanent residency or citizenship if this became a possibility for them.[98] In September 2014, Gov. Perry stated during a debate his continuous support for the program.[99]

LGBT rights

Perry speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

In 2002, Perry described the Texas same-sex anti-sodomy law as "appropriate".[100] The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the statute in Lawrence v. Texas, determining that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

In his 2010 book, Perry referenced the Lawrence decision, writing "Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes."[101] In 2011, Perry admitted that he did not know about the Lawrence decision; when told that the Supreme Court case had struck down the Texas's anti-sodomy law, Perry said: "I'm not taking the bar exam ... I don't know what a lot of legal cases involve ... [M]y position on traditional marriage is clear and I don't know need a law. I don't need a federal law case to explain it to me."[101]

Perry supported Texas Proposition 2 in 2005, a ballot proposition that amended the Texas constitution by defining marriage as "only a union between a man and a woman" and prohibiting the state from creating or recognizing "any legal status identical or similar to marriage" (such as civil unions).[102]

In 2011, after New York legalized same-sex marriage, Perry stated that it was their right to do so under the principle of states' rights in the Tenth Amendment.[103] A spokesman later reiterated Perry's support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying that position was not inconsistent, since an amendment would require ratification by three-fourths of the states.[104]

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Constitution, Perry condemned the decision, saying: "I'm a firm believer in traditional marriage, and I also believe the 10th Amendment leaves it to each state to decide this issue."[105]

In his first book, On My Honor, published in 2008, Perry drew a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism, writing that he is "no expert on the 'nature versus nurture' debate" but that gays should simply choose abstinence.[106]

During the 2012 presidential campaign, he criticized the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the U.S. military.[107] Perry said using foreign aid as a policy tool against foreign countries that violate the human rights of homosexuals was "not in America's interests" and was part of a "war on traditional American values".[108]

Perry, an Eagle Scout, has called on the Boy Scouts to continue their ban on homosexuality and blamed America for not living up to the ideals of the scouts.[109]


Perry's campaigns for lieutenant governor and governor focused on a tough stance on crime. He has supported block grants for crime programs.[110]

Jeff L. Blackburn, chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas, said of Perry that "He has done more good than any other governor we've ever had ... unless, of course, it involves the death penalty. On the death penalty, Rick Perry has a profound mental block."[111]

In 2007, Perry signed a law ending automatic arrest for cannabis possession.[112]

Death penalty

For more details on this topic, see Capital punishment in Texas.

Perry supports the death penalty.[113] In June 2001, he vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates.[114] As of September 18, 2014, there have been 278 executions since Perry first took office in December 2000.[115]

Cases in which Perry has been criticized for his lack of intervention include those of Cameron Todd Willingham, Frances Newton, and Mexican nationals José Medellín and Humberto Leal Garcia.[116][117][118][119]

Perry commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, who was convicted of murder despite evidence that he was only present at the scene of the crime. Foster was convicted under a Texas law that makes co-conspirators liable in certain cases of homicide. In this case, it tied Foster to the triggerman. Perry raised doubts about the law and urged the legislature to re-examine the issue. "I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment", Perry said in a statement at the time.[120]

Perry also refused to grant a stay of execution in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham even though an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission determined parts of the original investigation may not have looked at all of the evidence correctly. Perry called Willingham a "monster" and later replaced the chairman of the Science Commission.[121][122]


In 2001, Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a $145+ billion-dollar project that would build multi-lane highways, rail lines and data lines from Oklahoma to Mexico, and from east to west in southern Texas. Instead of paying for the project with taxes, Perry proposed that it be partially financed, partially built and wholly operated by private contractors, who would subsequently receive all toll proceeds.[123] All of Perry's gubernatorial opponents opposed the corridor project, as did the 2006 state party platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties.[124][125] After much contentious debate between supporters and opponents, an official decision of "no action" was issued by the Federal Highway Administration on July 20, 2010, formally ending the project.

Gun ownership

Perry has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.[126] He possesses a Concealed Carry License (CCL)[127] and has signed a number of bills that increased CHL access.[128]

2012 presidential campaign

Texas Governor Perry speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in June 2011
Perry campaigning at the Iowa State Fair, August 14, 2011
Governor Perry speaking at the Values Voter Summit in October 2011

Until 2011, Perry persistently denied aspirations to higher office; he was originally included on the 2012 presidential straw poll ballot at the Values Voter Summit in September 2009, but his name was removed at his request.[129] In April 2008 while appearing as a guest on CNBC's Kudlow & Company, he specifically stated that he would not agree to serve as Vice President in a McCain administration, stating that he already had "the best job in the world" as governor of Texas. Further, during a Republican gubernatorial debate in January 2010, when asked if he would commit to serving out his term if re-elected, he replied that "the place hasn't been made yet" where he would rather serve than the governor of Texas. In December 2010, when asked if he was a "definite maybe" to run for president in 2012, he replied, "a definite no, brother".[130]

On May 27, 2011, he said he was "going to think about" running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after the close of the Texas legislative session.[131] Perry said in a response to a question from a reporter, "but I think about a lot of things", adding a grin.[132]

On August 11, a Perry spokesman said that he would be running for president in 2012, with plans to announce his formal entry into the race the next day,[133] which he confirmed during a visit to KVUE, the ABC affiliate in Austin.

As the Associated Press bulletin announcing his entry into the race came across the wire, Perry signed and dated a printed copy of the bulletin.[134] On August 13, Perry officially announced that he would be running for president.[135]

After announcing his candidacy, Perry immediately became a serious contender in the race, with a poll released by Rasmussen Reports on August 16, 2011, showing him leading in the Republican field at 29 percent, with the eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney at a distant second at 18 percent and the then-front runner Michele Bachmann at 13 percent.[136] Perry hoped that Texas' own record of job growth in contrast to the rest of the country could persuade voters that he could reverse the economic downturn.[137] However, by September Perry's campaign began to suffer following a number of poor debate performances. Perry suffered further after a November 2011 debate: in the debate, he stated that, as president, he would eliminate three government agencies, but he was then unable to name more than two of the three agencies.[138] He later identified the agency he had been unable to think of as the Department of Energy.

In October 2011, The Washington Post reported that Perry's family leases a hunting camp once called "Niggerhead". According to some local residents interviewed by the Post, the Perrys used the camp for years before painting over a large rock with that name on it, which stands at an entrance to the area, and during this time Perry hosted friends and supporters at the camp.[139] Perry's campaign disputed the claims, stating that the Perrys painted over the rock almost immediately after acquiring a lease on the property in 1983.[140][141] The Washington Post news reporter filing the October 1, 2011, news report interviewed seven people "who spoke in detail of their memories of seeing the rock with the name at various points during the years that Perry was associated with the property through his father, partners or his signature on a lease".[139]

On December 6, Perry's campaign released a YouTube advertisement (entitled "Strong") in which Perry discusses his religious beliefs and criticizes the Obama administration.[142] Perry says in the video: "there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."[143] PolitiFact noted that Perry's assertion that "kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school" is false,[143] and the video was widely criticized online, receiving nearly 850,000 "dislikes" on YouTube.[144]

Perry came in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses and skipped the New Hampshire primary. With polls showing Perry trailing in the upcoming South Carolina primary, Perry announced on January 19, 2012, that he would be dropping out of the 2012 presidential race. Perry initially endorsed Newt Gingrich, and then endorsed Mitt Romney in April after Gingrich announced that he was suspending his campaign.[145]

Veto controversy and exoneration

On August 15, 2014, Perry was indicted by a Travis County grand jury.[146] The first charge of the indictment was abuse of official capacity, which has since been ruled unconstitutional,[147] for threatening to veto $7.5 million in funding for the Public Integrity Unit, a state public corruption prosecutors department. The second charge, which has also since been ruled unconstitutional,[147] was coercion of a public servant,[148] for seeking the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat,[149] after she was convicted of drunk driving, and incarcerated.

Perry pleaded not guilty to both charges. Perry's supporters called the charges political and partisan,[150] and several Democratic commentators, including David Axelrod, Matthew Yglesias, and Jonathan Chait stated they believed the charges were either weak or unwarranted.[151][152]

As of February 2016, Perry was cleared of all charges.[153] The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that courts could not limit veto power and that prosecuting Perry over his action violates "the separation of powers provision of the Texas Constitution" and infringed on Perry's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.[147]

Retirement as governor

Rick Perry speaking at the 2015 Defending the American Dream Summit in Columbus, Ohio

By the end of his third full term, he had served more than 14 consecutive years in office. A University of Texas at Austin–Texas Tribune poll released in June 2013, showed Perry leading potential primary challenger Attorney General Greg Abbott by double digits, 45–19%.[154] In February, the same poll had Perry leading by a 3-to-1 margin (49–17%) of 32 points over Abbott.[155]

However, Perry decided not to run for re-election to a fourth full term, announcing, in front of family and supporters at the Holt Cat Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, on July 8, 2013, that he would retire instead.[156][157]

Perry retired with the 10th longest gubernatorial tenure in United States history at the end of his term on January 20, 2015 at 5,144 days as well as the record of the longest serving Texas Governor.[158][159]

2016 presidential campaign

Rick Perry speaking at 2015 First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire

Almost immediately following the 2012 election, Perry was mentioned as a potential candidate for the presidency in the 2016 presidential election, with a Time magazine article in July 2013 saying that "everything is aligned for Rick Perry to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016."[160]

Perry officially launched his 2016 presidential candidacy on June 4, 2015, in Addison, Texas. A version of the Colt Ford song "Answer To No One" boomed from loudspeakers, as Perry took to the stage.[161][162][163][164][165] He then announced his candidacy at the scheduled press conference.[166]

Rick Perry and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina speak for supporting U.S. Senator Ted Cruz' campaign for the 2016 GOP Presidential primaries

Perry withdrew on September 11, 2015becoming the first in the field of major candidates to drop outfollowing poor polling after the first debate.[167] In the weeks before he dropped from the race, Perry's campaign was in dire financial straits, spending nearly four times as much as it raised.[168]

On January 25, 2016, Perry endorsed United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president.[169] On May 5, 2016, following the suspension of Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, Perry endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency.

Political future

Perry has been mentioned as a possible challenger to U.S. Senator and fellow 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, whom Perry had initially endorsed after suspending his own campaign, in 2018.[170] Speculation about Cruz being challenged in the Republican primary arose in the wake of the 2016 Republican National Convention, when Cruz controversially refused to endorse Donald Trump, the eventual Republican presidential nominee, whom Perry had endorsed after Cruz suspended his campaign.[171]

In a poll conducted from August 12 to 14 of that year by Public Policy Polling, Perry had a 46%-37% lead over Cruz.[172] Later that month, Trump stated that he had "been hearing a lot about that, and I don’t know if he wants to do it, but boy, will he do well. People love him in Texas, and he was one great governor."[171]

Books and speeches

Cartoon of Texas Governor Rick Perry

Rick Perry has written two books:

He has given a number of speeches, including one at the Heritage Foundation on his views of the proper role of the federal government and the military in disaster management.[176]

Personal life

Governor Perry and his wife, Anita, with then Laredo City Councilman Gene Belmares at the Laredo International Airport on a campaign stop in October 2006

In 1982, Perry married Mary Anita Thigpen, his childhood sweetheart whom he had known since elementary school. They have two adult children, Griffin and Sydney. Anita attended West Texas State University and earned a degree in nursing. She has spearheaded a number of health-related initiatives such as the Anita Thigpen Perry Endowment at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which focuses on nutrition, cardiovascular disease, health education, and early childhood development.[177] She helped develop and host the Texas Conference for Women.[178]

Perry played himself in minor roles for several feature films, including Man of the House, Deep in the Heart, and Hating Breitbart.

In 2001, the American Cowboy Culture Association, based in Lubbock, handed Perry its "The Top Cowboy of Texas" award. In accepting the honor, Perry cited the importance of his father, Ray Perry, and a former neighbor in Haskell County, the late Watt R. Matthews (born 1899), who Perry said taught him "not only about Texas and [its] history.. but also about the importance of the values that we learned growing up in a rural environment".[179]

Perry is a member of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and was awarded its Gold Good Citizenship Medal.[180]

Perry's son, Griffin, married Meredith Lewis on December 19, 2009. On June 20, 2013, Griffin and Meredith's first child was born, making Perry a grandfather.[181]

Dancing with the Stars

On August 30, 2016, Perry was announced as one of the celebrities who would compete on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Emma Slater.[182] Perry and Slater were eliminated on the third week of competition and finished in 12th place.[183]

Electoral history

Texas gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Perry (incumbent) 2,617,106 58
Democratic Tony Sanchez 1,809,915 40
Texas gubernatorial election, 2006[184]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Perry (incumbent) 1,716,792 39
Democratic Chris Bell 1,310,337 30
Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn 796,851 18
Independent Richard "Kinky" Friedman 547,674 12
Libertarian James Werner 26,749 <1
Texas gubernatorial election, 2010[185]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Perry (incumbent) 2,733,784 55
Democratic Bill White 2,102,606 42
Libertarian Kathie Glass 109,057 2
Green Deb Shafto 19,475 0
Independent Andy Barron (write-in) 7,973 0

See also


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Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joe Hanna
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 64th district

Succeeded by
John Cook
Political offices
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Jim Hightower
Agriculture Commissioner of Texas
Succeeded by
Susan Combs
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Bob Bullock
Lieutenant Governor of Texas
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Bill Ratliff
Preceded by
George W. Bush
Governor of Texas
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Greg Abbott
Party political offices
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George W. Bush
Republican nominee for Governor of Texas
2002, 2006, 2010
Succeeded by
Greg Abbott
Preceded by
Sonny Perdue
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Mark Sanford
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Haley Barbour
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Succeeded by
Bob McDonnell
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