| Assumed office|
|Lieutenant Governor of Texas|
| In office|
January 2003 — January 2007
|Sunshine pledge||Supporter of transparency|
James Richard Perry (b. March 4, 1950) is a Republican politician and the Governor of Texas. He assumed office in December 2000 when then-Governor George W. Bush resigned to prepare for his inauguration as President of the United States. Gov. Perry was elected to full terms in 2002 and 2006.
In the 2006 November general election Perry defeated a Democrat, former Congressman Chris Bell of Houston; a Libertarian, sales consultant James Werner; and two independent candidates, outgoing Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn] and "Kinky" Friedman, a country singer. Perry polled 1,714,618 (39 percent) to Bell's 1,309,774 (29.8 percent), Strayhorn's 789,432 (18 percent), Friedman's 553,327 (12.6 percent), and Werner's 26,726 (0.6 percent).
If he serves a full second term, Perry would become the longest serving governor in Texas history, with 10 years of total uninterrupted service. This would break the records held by Bill Clements (eight years, over two non-consecutive terms) and Allan Shivers (7.5 years consecutive service).
To the Texas legislature
Perry has said that his interest in politics probably began in December 1961, when, at the age of 11, his father took him to the funeral of the legendary Sam Rayburn, who during his long public career served as Speaker of the Texas House and the U.S. House. Dignitaries from all over the nation descended on the small town of Bonham, Texas for the official farewell to Rayburn.
In 1982, as his term on the Board of Education ended, Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representativesas a Democrat from a district that included his home county of Haskell. He served on the important House Appropriations and Calendars Committees during his three terms as a state legislator, where he was known as one 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 lean 1980s. In 1989, The Dallas Morning News named him one of the most effective legislators in the 71st legislature. In 1989, Perry announced that he was joining the Republican Party.
As agriculture commissioner (1991-1999)
In 1990, in a race for commissioner of agriculture new Republican Perry unseated Democrat Jim Hightower. Hightower had worked for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, while Perry had supported Tennessee Senator Al Gore and was Gore's campaign chairman in Texas in 1988. ).
As agriculture commissioner, Perry was responsible for promoting the sale of Texas farm produce to other states and foreign nations and supervising the calibration of weights and measures such as gasoline pumps and grocery store scales.
Perry was reelected agriculture commissioner by a large margin in 1994. He polled 2,546,287 (61.92 percent) to Democrat Marvin Gregory's 1,479,692 (35.98 percent). Libertarian Clyde L. Garland received 85,836 votes (2.08 percent).
As lieutenant governor, 1999-2000
In 1998, Perry ran for lieutenant governor to succeed the retiring Democrat Bob Bullock. 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 relinquished the comptroller's position after two terms to run for lieutenant governor. Libertarian Anthony Garcia polled another 65,150 votes (1.75 percent).
Perry assumed office as governor in December 2000 when then-Governor George W. Bush resigned to prepare for his inauguration as President of the United States. Perry was elected governor in 2002 over Democrat Antonio R. "Tony" Sanchez, Jr., a Laredo businessman. In the 2002 general election, Perry polled 2,632,591 votes (57.80 percent) to Sanchez's 1,819,798 (39.96 percent). Four other candidates shared some 2.21 percent of the vote. In 2006, Perry gained a second term with only 39 percent of the vote. While 61 percent of Texas voters opposed Perry, he won by plurality because his opposition was split four ways. Perry is the first governor since 1861 to be elected by a plurality of less than 40 percent. (There was also a similar plurality winner in 1853.)
Perry is the first graduate of Texas A&M to serve as Governor of Texas. As Governor, he is a member of the National Governors Association, the Western Governors' Association, the Southern Governors' Association, and the Republican Governors Association.
Early in his term as governor Perry worked to reform Texas health care and make it more accessible and instituted the SCHIP program designed to insure 500,000 children. He increased health funding by $6 billion. Some of these programs have faced funding problems in recent years. He also increased school funding prior to the 2002 election, creating new scholarship programs to help needy children in Texas, including $300 million for the Texas GRANT Scholarship Program. Some $9 billion was allocated to Texas public schools, colleges, and universities and combined with a new emphasis on accountability for both teachers and students.
Perry's lieutenant governor and governor campaigns focused on a tough stance on crime. In June 2002, Perry vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates. He has also backed block grants for crime programs.
Another important element of Perry's platform has been tort reform; as lieutenant governor he had tried and failed to place a limit on class action awards and allowing plaintiffs to distribute awards among several liable sources. In 2003, Perry sponsored a controversial proposal that capped medical malpractice rewards; this proposal ultimately passed.
Perry, a proponent of fiscal conservatism, has often campaigned on tax reform and job growth. Perry resisted new income and sales taxes, protected the state's "Rainy Day fund", balanced the state budget, and worked to reduce property taxes that exploded with inflation in property values in the late 1990s. He has been credited with attracting thousands of jobs to Texas in recent years by cutting payroll and property taxes.
In early 2006 Perry angered many fiscal conservatives in his own party by supporting an increase in the state franchise tax along side a property tax reform bill. Many organizations within the Republican Party itself condemned Perry's tax bill, HB-3, and likened it to a "back door" state income tax. Perry claimed in a statewide advertising campaign that the bill would save the average taxpayer $2,000 in property taxes. Critics contended that Perry inflated these numbers. The actual tax savings, they contend, will total only $150 per family on average. In 2003 Perry signed legislation that created the Texas Enterprise Fund making the development of the economy of Texas a top priority. His sales tax cuts have attracted new retail to Texas but in recent years his tax relief has come under scrutiny for sapping strength from government programs, particularly education.
Perry has faced considerable resistance in balancing fiscal conservatism, education equity, and the politics of school finance. As lieutenant governor, he initially sponsored a controversial school vouchers bill as an alternative to the "Robin Hood" proposal that was working at the time. In 2004, Perry attacked the same "Robin Hood" plan as a part of the education system's woes and attempted to get the legislature to finally abolish the system and replace it with one that he believed would encourage greater equity, cost less, not increase property or sales taxes, and not discourage job growth by legalizing video lottery terminals at racetracks and on Indian reservations, and higher cigarette taxes. While proclaiming his dedication to resolving the education funding issue, Perry also called three special legislative sessions in a row to force a re-districting plan through the legislature to re-align state precincts in favor of Republicans. Specifically, it was mentioned at the time by the proponents of the plan, Tom DeLay, among others, that they were not re-districting to deprive minorities, who historically voted Democrat, of their representation, but more specifically that they were re-districting to give registered Republicans the advantage, and that this was 'clearly not illegal or immoral'.
A special session of the legislature was convened June 21, 2005 to address the issues, but there was considerable resistance in the house, even from Speaker Tom Craddick. Perry's proposal was attacked by Democrats and many Republicans who represent property-poor districts and was rejected. During the session, Perry became involved in a heated debate with Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn about the merits of his school finance proposal. Strayhorn planned to run against Perry in the 2006 primary, but later decided to run as an independent. Another special session was convened on July 21, 2005 after Perry vetoed all funding for public schools for the 2007-2008 biennium, stating in a press briefing that "I’m not going to 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." Perry's 2006 campaign office stated that "without a special session, about $2 billion that had been intended for teacher pay raises, education reforms and other school priorities would have gone unused instead of going to schools because House Bill 2 (the public school reform package) didn’t pass." The bill failed to pass in the first session, and was refiled in a second session, in which the bill was defeated 62-79, after 50 amendments were added without discussion or debate.
Late in 2005, as public approval of his governorship sunk to all-time lows, Perry requested assistance from his former lieutenant-governor campaign rival John Sharp - the former Texas State Comptroller, Railroad Commissioner, Senator and House Representative - to head an education task force charged with preparing a bipartisan education plan for the 2006 special legislative session, which was convened April 17, 2006. Foregoing the opportunity to run against Perry in the upcoming race for the Texas governorship (a race that many have since suggested that he would have won), Sharp accepted Perry's offer and went to work. The task force issued its final plan several months later, with the suggestions contained within the plan accepted by the Texas Legislature and made into law soon afterward. Former Comptroller Sharp and his hand-picked team are now credited with modernizing the Texas Tax Code, something that the government was unable to achieve under Governor Perry's leadership alone. For his successful efforts, Sharp was later nominated by the Dallas Morning News for the "Texan of the Year" award.
In 2005, Perry, who is also a social conservative, signed a moderate abortion bill that limits late term abortions and requiring girls under the age of 18 to have parental permission for an abortion. He signed the bill in the gymnasium of Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth, an evangelical Christian school. He came under fire from abortion advocates. He is also known for his socially conservative views on homosexuality; He condemned the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas striking down sodomy laws and called Texas's last such law "appropriate."
Record use of vetoes
Perry set a record in the 2001 legislative session for the use of the veto: he rejected legislation a total of 82 times, more than any governor in any single legislative session in the history of the state since reconstruction. Perry's use of the veto drew criticism from both parties in the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, having used the veto only nine fewer times than preceding governor George W. Bush over three legislative sessions and 22 more than Ann Richards cast in two sessions. In the two legislative sessions since the 2001 session, Perry was more conservative in his use of the veto, employing it only 51 times in total. However, as of 2005, he has used the veto more than any other Governor of Texas in a contiguous administration; the only governor who exceeded Perry's total was Republican Bill Clements, facing a Democrat dominated state government, vetoing legislation 184 times over two nonconsecutive terms to Perry's 132.
Perry has backed states' rights on several occasions, including the ability of states to decide their own policy on the environment and on drugs.
Purging of Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith
Perry has made numerous appointments to the Texas courts, the Railroad Commission, and other bodies and commissions during his tenure as governor. One of his first selections was the appointment of Xavier Rodriguez to the Texas Supreme Court. Rodriguez, who called himself a moderate, was quickly unseated in the 2002 Republican primary by conservative Steven Wayne Smith, the attorney in the Hopwood v. Texas suit in 1996, which successfully challenged affirmative action at the University of Texas Law School. Hopwood, however, was overturned in a 2003 decision stemming from the University of Michigan. Steven Smith was elected in the 2002 general election.
Perry objected to Smith's tenure on the court and refused to meet with the new justice when he attempted to mend fences with the governor. Perry encouraged Judge Paul Green to challenge Smith in the 2004 Republican primary. Perry raised a lot of campaign cash for Green, who defeated Smith in the primary and was then elected without opposition in the 2004 general election. Smith attempted a comeback in the 2006 Republican primary by waging a shoestring challenge to Justice Don Willett, another Perry appointee who was also considered a strong conservative on the court. Smith polled 49.5 percent of the primary vote, but Perry's man prevailed.
Perry supports the death penalty as do a super-majority of Texans. Perry has been criticized by anti-death penalty groups including some human rights organizations worldwide. However, Perry doesn't seem to take notice of the criticism and he rarely uses his authority to stay scheduled executions for one month.
Under Texas law, the Board of Pardon and Parole must make a recommendation to commute such a sentence, which the Governor is free to ignore, but the reverse is not true; if the Board does not make such a recommendation the Governor cannot then commute the sentence. The only power the Governor has is to issue one, 30-day reprieve.
In 2005, Frances Newton's appeal for a commutation of her death penalty was declined, although some allege that there was insufficient evidence to convict. Her attorney had also argued Newton was incapable of standing trial. Frances Newton was executed on September 14, 2005. The Board of Pardon and Parole did not recommend a commutation, thus Perry could not do so himself, and chose not to grant the one-time reprieve.
Texas-based TXU is planning a $10 billion investment in eleven new coal-fired power plants over the next several years. In 2006, Perry (who has taken more than $324,000 in contributions from coal companies over the past six years) fast-tracked the permitting process and limited the time frame for public comment on this proposal.
Views on non-Christians
In what was described as a God and country sermon at the Cornerstone church in San Antonio, attended by Perry and other mostly Republican candidates, the Rev. John Hagee stated "If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God Almighty through the authority of Christ and His blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket." Perry was asked if he agreed with those comments and said "It is my faith, and I'm a believer of that".  Perry went on to say that there was nothing in the sermon that he took exception with. Perry said he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and those who reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour will go to hell. Condemnation from his opponents was swift. Kinky Friedman, the Jewish independent candidate for governor said "He doesn't think very differently from the Taliban, does he?" Carol Keeton Strayhorn disagreed with Perry's comments and Democrat Chris Bell said that one who is in public office should "respect people of all faiths and denominations."
Inauguration concert controversy
Perry invited his friend, rocker Ted Nugent, to perform at a black-tie gala hours after Perry's second inauguration ceremony. Using machine guns as props, Nugent allegedly appeared onstage as the final act of the inaugural ball wearing a cutoff T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag and shouting offensive remarks about non-English speakers, according to press reports. Nugent denies making any racial comments .
Cervical cancer vaccine
On February 2, 2007 Perry issued an Executive Order mandating that Texas girls be vaccinated with Gardasil, a newly approved drug manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. that protects against some strains of the HPV virus which causes cervical cancer.
Perry's move has been criticized by social conservatives and some parents due to concerns about the moral implications of the vaccine and safety concerns. On February 22, 2007 a group of families sued in an attempt to block Gov. Perry's executive order.  Several financial connections between Merck and Rick Perry have been reported, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution, as well as Merck's hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobby work. 
Adding to the criticism of Perry's order is what is viewed by some as a high price of the vaccine which is approximately $US360 in Texas. Being a patent protected vaccine, Merck is the sole producer of Gardasil.
On May 9, 2007, Perry allowed a bill to go into law that would undo his executive order. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/05/09/9hpv.html
Rick Perry generally supports transparency in government and has been outspoken on the issue. However he has recently been criticized for allowing his staff to delete emails after 7 days, a move some have said is against the Texas Public Information Act.
Tyrone Brown was an African-American who was sentenced to life in in a Texas maximum security prison in 1990 for smoking marijuana while on probation. Texas Judge Keith Dean had originally placed Brown on probation but changed the sentence after Brown tested positive for marijuana. After being defeated in the last Dallas election, Judge Dean requested the governor pardon Brown. On 9 March 2007, Govenor Perry granted Brown a conditional pardon.
- Kofler, Shelley . "Continued absence of Dems grinds House to a halt". Txcn. May 14, 2003
- Lomax, Lucius, The Class of 1985, Austin Chronicle (Feb. 27, 2004).
- Texas Governor Rick Perry official state site
- National Governors Association - Texas Governor Rick Perry biography
- Follow the Money - Rick Perry 2006 campaign contributions
- On the Issues - Rick Perry issue positions and quotes
- Project Vote Smart - Governor Rick Perry (TX) profile
- Perry for Governor official campaign site
- Perry Alliance Network combined grassroots headquarters for Governor Perry’s supporters, campaign volunteers and online activists
- Heir to the Throne Jenny Staff, Austin Chronicle May 28, 1999
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on 06/13/07