Rick Perry was born in Paint Creek, Texas, and now lives in Austin. He graduated in 1972 from Texas A&M University, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets.
He served in the Air Force from graduation until 1977. He served in the Texas House from 1984 to 1990, was a state Department of Agriculture commissioner from 1990 to 1998, and lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2000.
Perry became governor in 2000 after George W. Bush won the presidency. He was elected to his first full term in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010.
He ran unsuccessfully for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Perry and his wife, Anita, have two children.
Rick Perry, who succeeded George W. Bush as governor and won re-election in 2010 to a third full-term, is Texas' longest-serving governor.
Perry has spoken out against President Barack Obama and members of Congress for their economic stimulus spending and the 2010 federal health care reform bill.
Though he accepted most of the billions of dollars in federal stimulus money slated for Texas — money that helped Texas balance its 2009 budget — in March 2009 Perry formally rejected $555 million that would aid the state's struggling unemployment fund. Perry said the money would come with strings attached and force Texas to make long-term, expensive changes to its unemployment laws that would remain after the stimulus money ran out.
Early in his tenure as governor, Perry embraced education as his top issue. As the state has faced ever growing budget deficits, however, he has come to criticize public school administrators, and he signed a bill that reduced education funding by $4 billion.
Perry has repeatedly persuaded the Legislature to fund job-creation accounts that he uses for bringing businesses to Texas. He said aggressive attempts to attract companies and new jobs is one reason Texas didn't find itself, like many other states, in a dire economic situation when the recession hit.
Despite endorsing moderate Republican Rudy Giuliani for president in 2008, for which he drew heavy criticism from social conservatives, Perry still enjoys conservative support in this decidedly Republican state. Perry opposes embryonic stem cell research and abortion, in most cases.
In 2010, he toyed with the idea of pulling Texas out of Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care for low-income people. Perry gave up on the idea when the state's comptroller said it would bankrupt the state.
Texas is the only state that has refused to put in place the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules regulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. During his 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination, Perry proposed eliminating the EPA. He rejects man-made global warming as a "scientific theory that has not been proven."
While campaigning for the presidency, Perry focused on cutting federal spending and creating more domestic jobs and natural energy opportunities in the country.
Perry has credibility both with Republican fiscal conservatives — as a pro-business tax-cutter who has presided over the state's recent economic growth — and also as a devout social conservative with deep ties to some of the nation's evangelical leaders.
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Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 55% (2010), 39% (2006), 58% (2002).
(Last updated by Chris Tomlinson on July 3, 2012.)