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Who Is Sonny Perdue?

  • VOA News

FILE - Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue arrives for a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Nov. 30, 2016.

George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue, 70, was born in Perry, Georgia, to a teacher and a farmer. Perdue has been known as Sonny since childhood and prefers to be called by that name. When elected to public office, he was sworn in and signed official documents as Sonny Perdue.

Perdue earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Georgia. He practiced for a few years before moving on to business.

Perdue began his political career as a Democrat in the state legislature in the 1990s. But it was after switching his allegiance to the Republican Party that Perdue made Georgia history.

In 2002, Perdue was elected the state's first Republican governor since the end of Reconstruction more than 130 years earlier. White voters, angry that the state legislature had stripped the state flag of its large Confederate battle cross in 2001, flocked to Perdue, who promised a referendum on bringing the emblem back.

Perdue's victory over an incumbent Democrat completed Georgia's shift to a solidly Republican state, ending generations of Democratic control of state government.

A devout Southern Baptist, he also found a place for faith in his administration. In 2007, when a withering drought gripped Georgia and neighboring states, Perdue held a prayer rally in front of the state Capitol in Atlanta to pray publicly for rain.

After finishing his second term as governor, Perdue founded Perdue Partners, a global trading firm that consults and provides services for companies looking to export products.

Perdue and his wife, Mary, have been married since 1972. They have four children and 14 grandchildren.

Perdue made a cameo appearance as an East Carolina football coach in the movie We are Marshall, which was largely filmed in Georgia.

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