Who is Rick Perry?
Rick Perry is an American politician who served as the 47th governor of Texas (2000–2015) and the secretary of energy in the administration of President Donald Trump. He initially served in the ‘U.S. Air Force’ and was discharged as a captain. Perry then worked with his father in their family business. He joined politics as a ‘Democrat’ and was elected to the ‘Texas House of Representatives.’ He had an exceptional political tenure, from 1984 to 2010, as he did not lose a single election in that period, despite switching to the ‘Republican Party.’ He has been the longest-serving governor of Texas. As a staunch Methodist and a member of an evangelical Southern Baptist megachurch, Perry vehemently opposed abortions and same-sex marriages. His conservative principles made Texas one of the economically strongest states. However, Perry's political fortune took a dramatic turn when he had to withdraw his 2012 presidential campaign due to poor polls. His 2016 run, too, had the same fate. After two failed bids, Perry became the secretary of energy.
Childhood & Early Life
James Richard “Rick” Perry was born on March 4, 1950, in the unincorporated Paint Creek community of West Texas, U.S., to Joseph Ray Perry, a West Texas cotton farmer, and Amelia June Holt, a bookkeeper at a local cotton gin. He grew up with a sister named Milla Perry. Their parents also owned a cattle ranch.
After graduating from the 'Paint Creek High School' in 1968, Perry attended the 'Texas A&M University,' where he was a "yell leader," a member of 'Aggie Bonfire,' and an 'Alpha Gamma Rho' fraternity member. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in animal science in 1972.
Motivated by his father, who had served as the Haskell County commissioner for a long time, Perry joined the 'Boy Scouts of America' (BSA) and was awarded the 'Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.'
Growing up, Perry played the piano and even considered turning it into a career but banished the thought after he had an arm injury at the age of 16.
For his summer-internship during college, Rick Perry worked as a book salesman with 'Southwestern Advantage.'
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In 1972, Perry was commissioned in the ‘U.S. Air Force.’ During his service, he flew both domestic and international transport planes.
After completing his pilot training in 1974, he flew the tactical airlift 'Lockheed C-130 Hercules' and was posted at the 772nd 'Tactical Airlift Squadron' of the 'Dyess Air Force Base.'
Perry was deployed at ‘RAF Mildenhall’ in England and the ‘Rhein-Main Air Base’ in Germany. He was part of the relief campaigns during the 1974 drought in Mali, Mauritania, and Chad and the 1976 Guatemala earthquake.
He was discharged as a captain in 1977.
Perry returned to Texas to join his father, helping him with cattle ranching and growing grains and cotton. In 1978, they established the 'JR Perry Farms.'
His father, who was a Southern ‘Democrat,’ introduced him to politics.
Perry stepped into politics with his successful ran as a ‘Democrat’ for the ‘Texas House of Representatives’ in 1984. He campaigned from District 64, including Haskell. He served three 2-year terms in office.
In that capacity, Perry served on the 'House Appropriations Committee.' Representing a group of fiscally conservative ‘Democrats,’ he supported the suggestion of tax increment by $5 billion in 1987.
He was re-elected to the post in 1986 and again in 1988.
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In 1988, Perry chaired the ‘Democratic’ presidential primaries of environmentalist Al Gore. Unfortunately, he lost the bid.
In September the following year, Perry switched to the ‘Republican Party’ and faced ‘Democratic’ Jim Hightower in his run for the head of the ‘Texas Department of Agriculture’ in 1990. He defeated Hightower in November.
As the commissioner of the ‘Texas Department of Agriculture,’ Perry promoted the Texas farm-production sales to other states and countries, supervised the standardization of weights and measures, and supported healthcare reforms in April 1993.
He was re-elected to the post the following year and continued until he became the lieutenant governor of Texas in 1998. With that, he became Texas's first ‘Republican’ lieutenant governor since Reconstruction.
Perry assumed office on January 19, 1999. After George W. Bush resigned to focus on his presidential run, Perry became the governor of Texas in December 2000. He remained in office until 2015. Perry is still known as the longest-serving governor in the political history of Texas. Perry was re-elected in 2002, 2006, and 2010.
In 2001, Rick Perry became the first governor to reject the highest number of acts using the veto in a legislative session.
As a governor, Perry supported the death penalty. In June 2001, he banned the execution of mentally challenged prisoners. The following year, he supported the Texas same-sex anti-sodomy law. He proposed to open the ‘Trans-Texas Corridor,’ but the project was canceled in 2009.
Being an anti-abortionist, he passed the 'Prenatal Protection Act' in 2003. He restricted the termination of pregnancies, irrespective of whether they resulted from rape or incest. The act applied even if the mother was a minor, and only life-threatening pregnancies were exempt. He is also against embryonic stem-cell research.
He passed a malpractice settlement cap and established the non-profit organization known as the 'OneStar Foundation,' to bring various non-profits together to share resources and volunteer to reach their respective missions.
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In 2005, Perry supported a Texas constitutional amendment that banished same-sex marriages. The following year, he reduced the property taxes paid to school districts.
In February 2007, he issued an executive order that stated that every sixth-grade girl must be vaccinated with ‘Gardasil,’ as a precautionary measure against the human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the prominent causes of cervical cancer. Even though the order did not make it mandatory for parents to get their daughters vaccinated, and they could opt out, Perry overturned the provision. The media reported it as a business deal between him and the ‘Gardasil’ vaccine manufacturer, 'Merck & Company.'
In 2007, Rick Perry banned automatic arrest for cannabis possession. His first-published book, 'On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,' was released in 2008, while his second book, 'Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington,' was released in November 2010.
Under his governorship, Texas had the highest number of uninsured citizens.
Perry gained national prominence in 2011, when he co-organized an Evangelical Christian prayer rally with the 'American Family Association.' The media criticized the event, labeling it as his gimmick to promote his presidential campaign.
He formally launched his presidential campaign on August 13, 2011, in Charleston, South Carolina. Perry promoted himself with his accomplishments as the governor of Texas. However, his poor debate performances and stiff competition impacted his poll numbers negatively.
After failing in the Iowa councils and the New Hampshire primary, Perry withdrew his candidature in January 2012.
In July 2013, Perry announced that he would not run for the re-election in 2014 and that he would resign after the 2014 elections. He officially retired on January 20, 2015.
In June, he was nominated for the 2016 U.S. presidential run. Like the 2012 debacle, this campaign, too, failed to gain momentum, and he withdrew on September 11. He was the first major candidate to drop out of the run.
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In February 2015, Perry announced that he would join the board of directors of 'Energy Transfer Partners,' one of the largest energy asset portfolio operators in the country, and the Dallas-based energy company 'Sunoco Partners.'
On January 25, 2016, Perry promoted Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, which was suspended on May 5. He then endorsed Donald Trump's campaign.
On August 30, 2016, Rick Perry participated in the 23rd season of the reality show 'Dancing with the Stars.' He was paired with professional dancer Emma Slater, but the duo was eliminated in the third week of the competition.
In December 2016, president-elect Trump nominated Perry as the 14th secretary of energy. The nomination was subjected to heavy scrutiny for Perry's double standards. He worked to get the ‘Department of Energy’ abolished during his 2012 presidential campaign.
Nevertheless, the 'United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources' confirmed the nomination on January 31, 2017.
He resigned from the post on December 1, 2019.
In January 2020, Perry joined the ‘LE GP’ board. He rejoined the board of directors of 'MCNA Dental,' as the chief strategy officer and vice-chairman the following month.
Perry is associated with the 'National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution,' which has presented him the 'Gold Good Citizenship Medal.'
Family & Personal Life
Rick Perry has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary Anita Thigpen, since 1982. The two had first met at a piano concert in elementary school. They have two children, Sydney and Griffin. They also have two granddaughters and a grandson.
He enjoys listening to Beethoven and ‘The Who.’ He is also a fan of 'The Wizard of Oz.'
Rick Perry has appeared in cameo roles, playing himself, in films such as 'Man of the House,' 'Deep in the Heart,' and 'Hating Breitbart.'