A Republican, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-Governor George W.
Perry's duties included two-month overseas rotations at RAF Mildenhall in England and Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. In 1984, Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat from district 64, which included his home county of Haskell.
He served on the House Appropriations and Calendars committees during his three two-year terms in office.
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).
Gregory, a chicken farmer from Sulphur Springs, Texas, was on the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority with Perry in the early nineties as a Republican, but became a Democrat before running against Perry in 1994.
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.
In a 1989 interview, he said that "I was probably a bit of a free spirit, not particularly structured real well for life outside of a military regime, I would have not lasted at Texas Tech or the University of Texas.
I would have hit the fraternity scene and lasted about one semester." In the early 1970s, Perry interned during several summers with the Southwestern Company, as a door-to-door book salesman.
He befriended fellow freshman state representative Lena Guerrero of Austin, a staunch liberal Democrat who endorsed Perry's reelection bid in 2006.