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His father, a Democrat, was a long-time Haskell County commissioner and school board member. Perry graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1968.Perry has said that his interest in politics probably began in November 1961, when his father took him to the funeral of U. Upon graduation from high school, Perry attended Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

A Republican, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-Governor George W.Bush resigned to become President of the United States.Perry polled 1,858,837 votes (50.04 percent) to the 1,790,106 (48.19 percent) cast for Democrat John Sharp of Victoria, who had relinquished the Comptroller's position after two terms to seek the lieutenant governorship.Libertarian Anthony Garcia polled another 65,150 votes (1.75 percent). Bush and Texas Governor Rick Perry shake hands September 27, 2005, after a question-and-answer session at the Port Arthur airport.Since Perry fell shy of the necessary 50% to win outright, a runoff was held between Perry and Mc Iver set on April 10, 1990.

In the runoff, he emerged victorious, garnering 96,649 votes (69%) to Mc Iver's 43,921 votes (31%).According to the book Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W.Bush, Rove raised million to raise Perry's profile, "while tarnishing the name of Jim Hightower" resulting in Perry's name becoming a "household name in Texas—and Hightower's name synonymous with corruption".He befriended fellow freshman state representative Lena Guerrero of Austin, a staunch liberal Democrat who endorsed Perry's reelection bid in 2006.Perry was part of the "Pit Bulls", a group of Appropriations members who sat on the lower dais in the committee room (or "pit") who pushed for austere state budgets during the 1980s.In 1994, Perry was reelected Agriculture Commissioner by a large margin, getting 2,546,287 votes (62 percent) to Democrat Marvin Gregory's 1,479,692 (36 percent). Garland received the remaining 85,836 votes (2 percent).