Sonny Perdue

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Sonny Perdue
Sonny Perdue.JPG
81st Governor of Georgia
In office
January 13, 2003 – January 10, 2011
Lieutenant Mark Taylor
Casey Cagle
Preceded by Roy Barnes
Succeeded by Nathan Deal
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 18th district
In office
1991 – December 4, 2001
Personal details
Born George Ervin Perdue III
(1946-12-20) December 20, 1946 (age 67)
Perry, Georgia, United States
Political party Republican Party (1998–present)
Other political
affiliations
Democratic Party (1992–1998)
Spouse(s) Mary Ruff
Alma mater University of Georgia
Profession Agribusiness
Veterinarian
Religion Southern Baptist
Signature
Military service
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Rank Captain

George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III[1] (born December 20, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 81st Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. Upon his inauguration in January 2003, he became the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Personal life and education[edit]

Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia. He currently lives in Bonaire, an unincorporated area between Perry and Warner Robins. His father was a farmer and his mother was a teacher. Perdue has been known as Sonny since childhood and prefers to be called by that name (he was sworn in and signs official documents as "Sonny Perdue").

Perdue is the first cousin of businessman and Republican Senate candidate David Perdue.[2]

Perdue played quarterback at Warner Robins High School and was a walk-on at the University of Georgia, where he was also a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity (Beta-Lambda chapter).

Perdue served in the Air Force, rising to the rank of Captain before his discharge.

In 1971 he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and worked as a veterinarian before becoming a small business owner, eventually starting three small businesses.

Perdue and his wife, Mary, were married in 1972. They have four children (two boys and two girls) and twelve grandchildren (five boys and seven girls) and have also been foster parents for eight children.

In addition to flying, Perdue is also an avid sportsman.

Perdue made a cameo appearance as an East Carolina football coach in the movie We Are Marshall, large portions of which were filmed in Georgia.[3]

Political career[edit]

State Senator[edit]

After serving as a member of the Houston County Planning & Zoning Commission in the 1980s, Perdue ran for a seat in the Georgia General Assembly. He defeated Republican candidate Ned Sanders in 1990 and succeeded Democratic incumbent Ed Barker as the Senator representing the 18th district.

Perdue was elected in 1991, 1994.and 1996, serving as his party's leader in the Senate, from 1994 to 1997, and as president pro tempore.[4]

His committee assignments included Ethics, Finance & Public Utilities, Health & Human Services, Reapportionment and Economic Development, Tourism & Cultural Affairs.

He switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1998 and was re-elected to the Senate as a Republican. He also won re-election in 2000.

Governor of Georgia[edit]

Perdue resigned in December 2001 and devoted himself entirely to running for the office of Governor. He was elected Governor of Georgia in November 2002, defeating Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes, 51% to 46% (a Libertarian candidate took 2% of the vote[5]). He became the first Republican governor of Georgia in over 130 years.

Perdue was re-elected to a second term in the 2006 general election. His Democratic opponent was Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor. Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes was also on the ballot. Perdue won handily, with nearly 58% of the vote.[6] Perdue was constitutionally ineligible to seek a third consecutive term as Governor in 2010.

Perdue's main focus in office has been on reforming state government, and improving education. Perdue has advocated reforms designed to cut waste in government, most notably the sale of surplus vehicles and real estate. (Prior to Perdue's becoming governor, no state agency had even compiled an inventory of what assets the state owned, much less managed them.[citation needed]

In education, Perdue has focused on returning decision-making to the local level. Since Perdue took office, Georgia briefly moved out of last place in SAT scores; though it returned to last place in 2005, in 2006 Georgia rose to 46th place.[citation needed] The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years.[7]

Having won office after promising to let the citizens of Georgia vote to determine their flag, Perdue signed legislation for a flag referendum in 2004. The choices given to Georgia voters were a modified version of the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America with the Georgia State Seal prominently displayed inside the circle of the 13 stars, or the version of the flag created in 2001 by the Roy Barnes administration. (The nickname of this flag was the Barnes flag or Barnes rag). Perdue angered some Georgians when the 1956 flag was not a choice on the ballot after promising throughout his campaign that the '56 flag design would appear in any referendum. However, Perdue was faced with a Democratic House that would not consider having the 1956 flag on the referendum and he needed support for the new tobacco tax he wanted to pass.[citation needed]

According to a March 5, 2008, proclamation by Governor Perdue, "Among those who served the Confederacy were many African-Americans, both free and slave, who saw action in the Confederate armed forces in many combat roles. According to the Georgia government's website on Confederate History Month, they also participated in the manufacture of products for the war effort, built naval ships, and provided military assistance and relief efforts..."[8]

Governor Perdue's tenure included the most severe floods in Georgia's recorded history,[9] which resulted in Perdue declaring a state of emergency in 17 counties.[10] Disaster preparedness has been a focus of the administration, with Governor Purdue having worked with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to implement Ready Georgia, a campaign launched in 2008 to increase disaster preparedness throughout the state.[11]

As of September 2007, Governor Perdue remained relatively popular. Perdue had a 56% approval rating, while 35% disapproved, according to Strategic Vision.[12]

Controversies[edit]

Land ownership[edit]

In mid-2003, Perdue purchased 101 acres (0.41 km2) of land next to his Houston County home, for $303,000, after negotiating directly with the owner. The purchase was done using a limited liability company named Maryson LLC, a corporation formed on July 23, 2003.[13] Maryson's registered agent was Stephan Holcomb, a Houston County dentist. Perdue appointed Holcomb, a neighbor of the governor's sister in Houston County, to the state Board of Dentistry in 2003. The lawyer who organized Maryson LLC was state representative Larry O'Neal (R-Warner Robins), the chairman of the Ways & Means committee of the House.[14] Perdue paid the 2003 tax bill on the property after it was acquired by Maryson, Houston County tax records show.[citation needed] In May 2004, the land was transferred from Maryson to Perdue's own name.[13] The transfer price was recorded at $305,000. Maryson was dissolved on July 9, 2005, a year after the sale.[14] Perdue did not disclose the property or any interest on his financial disclosure forms for calendar years 2003 and 2004, as required by Georgia law.[13] Five days after Maryson was incorporated in 2003, O'Neal also incorporated a partnership for Perdue and his wife, Mary, called Perdue Plantation LLC, according to the Secretary of State's Office. This partnership also was not listed on Perdue's 2004 financial disclosure report. The Secretary of State's Office said an official is required to report ownership or a fiduciary position in a company.[14]

Praying for rain[edit]

In November 2007, while Georgia suffered from one of the worst droughts in several decades, Perdue, along with lawmakers and local ministers, prayed for rain on the steps of the state Capitol. This came shortly after Alabama Governor Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as "Days of Prayer for Rain" to "humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty." The Atlanta Freethought Society opposed the rain prayer saying in a statement, "The governor can pray when he wants to. What he can't do is lead prayers in the name of the people of Georgia."[15]

Electoral history[edit]

Senator 18th district, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Sonny Perdue 17,932 70.53
Republican Ned Sanders 7,451 29.47
Turnout 25,383
Democratic hold Swing
Senator 18th district, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Sonny Perdue (Incumbent) 28,920 100.00
Turnout 28,920
Democratic hold Swing
Senator 18th district, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Sonny Perdue (Incumbent) 24,543 100.00
Turnout 24,543
Republican hold Swing
Senator 18th district, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Sonny Perdue (Incumbent) 30,681 69.2
Democratic Miller Heath 13,647 30.8
Turnout 44,328
Republican hold Swing
Georgia gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Sonny Perdue 1,041,677 51.4
Democratic Roy Barnes (Incumbent) 937,062 46.3
Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes 47,122 2.3
Turnout 2,025,861
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Georgia gubernatorial election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Sonny Perdue (incumbent) 1,229,724 57.9 +6.5
Democratic Mark Taylor 811,049 38.2 -8.0
Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes 81,412 3.8 +1.5
Turnout 2,102,185
Republican hold Swing

References[edit]

  1. ^ Inscoe, John C., New Georgia Encyclopedia entry on Sonny Perdue, University of Georgia, 2/6/2004
  2. ^ http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/05/meet-david-perdue-he-might-be-georgias-next-senator/371308/
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Charles S. Bullock, III, The Georgia Political Almanac, The General Assembly 1993–94
  5. ^ "Official Results of the November 5, 2002 General Election". Georgia Election Results. Georgia Secretary of State. 2002-12-24. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Georgia Election Results, Georgia Secretary of State". Sos.georgia.gov. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  7. ^ Jeffery Whitfield, Clayton News Daily, "School system suffers drop in SAT scores", August 29, 2006 (AP sources used in report)
  8. ^ http://gov.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/2/32/107379793Confederate%20History%20Month%202008.pdf
  9. ^ Edward Martin (September 24, 2009). "USGS Release: Atlanta Flooding Sets New Records". USGS. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  10. ^ Gov. Sonny Perdue issues state of emergency for 17 Georgia counties, Savannah Now, September 21, 2009 
  11. ^ "About Us". Ready Georgia. Retrieved November 10, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Poll Results – GA". Retrieved February 14, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b c Ken Foskett, "Perdue failed to disclose land buy near prized tract: Acreage next to the governor's Houston County home abuts a pristine forest that's slated for major development", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 28, 2006
  14. ^ a b c James Salzer, "Perdue invests close to home: Governor appears to ignore his rationale in Florida deal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 2, 2006
  15. ^ Updated 93 minutes ago 12/2/2010 2:09:41 pm +00:00 (November 13, 2007). "Dry Georgia rallies, and prays, for rain - Weather". MSNBC. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
Georgia Senate
Preceded by
Ed Barker
Georgia State Senator from 18th district
1991–2001
Succeeded by
Ross Tolleson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Guy Millner
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Georgia
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Nathan Deal
Political offices
Preceded by
Roy Barnes
Governor of Georgia
2003–2011
Succeeded by
Nathan Deal