A fifth generation Texan from the tiny West Texas town of Paint Creek, Perry is the Eagle Scout son of Democratic tenant farmers.
After majoring in animal science at Texas A&M, Perry joined the US Air Force, where he completed pilot training and flew C-130 transports. He left with the rank of captain, joined his father’s cotton farm, married his childhood sweetheart, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives.
In 1989, Perry became a Republican (“I made both parties happy”), then won successive roles as Texas agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor, and, in late 2000, governor.
Perry is the longest-serving Texas governor. He is known as much for his stellar record creating private-sector jobs in Texas as for his syrupy accent and cufflinks-and-cowboy boots style.