Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor of the Lone Star state, is a fifth-generation Texan.
Perry’s ancestry is almost entirely English, dating as far back as the 13 original colonies. His family has been in Texas since before the Texas Revolution.
Perry graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. Upon graduation from college in 1972, Perry was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and completed pilot training in February 1974. He was then assigned as a C-130 pilot to the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron.
He left the United States Air Force in 1977 with the rank of captain, returned to Texas, and went into business farming cotton with his father.
Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1984. He served on the House Appropriations and Calendars committees during his three two-year terms in office.
On September 29, 1989, Perry announced that he was switching parties, becoming a Republican. A year later, as a newly minted Republican, Perry challenged Jim Hightower, the incumbent Democratic Agriculture Commissioner. Karl Rove, who later would serve as the senior adviser and deputy chief of staff during the George W. Bush administration, was Perry’s campaign manager.
In 1998, Perry chose not to seek a third term as Agriculture Commissioner, running instead for Lieutenant Governor. He won.
Perry assumed the office of governor December 21, 2000, following the resignation of George W. Bush, who was preparing to become president of the United States. Perry won the governorship in his own right in the 2002 election and again in 2006 and 2010.
He unsuccessfully ran for president of the United States in 2012 and 2016, each time failing to win the nomination of the Republican Party.
Since February 2015, Perry has served on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, which owns and operates one of the largest energy asset portfolios in the United States. The company owns 62,500 miles of oil and natural gas pipelines and is currently in the process of constructing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.