Thursday, 22 September 2011

Profile: Rick Perry

James Richard Perry is the 47th Gov. of the Lone Star state and assumed the role in December 2000 after fellow Texan G.W. Bush resigned to become President of the USA. At present he is the longest continuously serving Governor in the country and the longest serving in Texas history after winning three elections.

In 1950 he was born in Paint Creek, West Texas to cotton farming parents and was a keen Scout being adorned with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He went on to attend Texas A&M studying Animal Science where he became one of five yell leaders (equivalent to a male cheerleader) and joined the Corps of Cadets. Upon graduation he served five years as an officer in the Air Force and then went into the cotton business with his father.

In 1984 he started life as a Democrat, as his father was, he built himself a reputation in the state legislature with the Dallas Morning News at one point naming him one of the ten most effective members. In 1988 he chaired the Texas Gore presidential campaign before switching his allegiances to the Grand Old Party in 1989.

In 1990 he became Texas' Agriculture Commissioner and served two terms during which time he expressed support for the Clinton health care reforms describing them as: "most commendable." However, he backtracked later as Governor explaining he only extended his approval in order to get Clinton to pay more attention to rural health care.

In 1998 he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas but during the campaign he fell out with his strategist Karl Rove who went on to work for then Governor, and later President, G.W. Bush giving rise to years of animosity between the two camps. He resigned two years later to take the Governor's seat as Bush resigned to take up his new seat at the White House.

Perry is serving his fourth term as Governor and is known for vetoing a ban on the execution of mentally handicapped inmates and capping medical malpractice awards. He was involved in a financial scandal concerning HPV vaccines in Texas, he has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association and was once accused of advocating Texas' secession from the Union. Most recently he proclaimed three "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas" in April as a response to the drought crippling Texas but unfortunately the drought coverage increased 50% by August.