Skip to main content

Originally published July 8, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Page modified July 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

5 things to know about Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history and a failed former Republican presidential candidate, said Monday he won't seek re-election. Here are five things to know about him.

Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >


AUSTIN, Texas —

Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history and a failed former Republican presidential candidate, said Monday he won't seek re-election. Here are five things to know about him.


Concluding a 2005 television interview with Houston ABC affiliate KTRK-TV, Perry flashed the camera a wry smile and quipped: "Adios, mofo." He later apologized, claimed he didn't realize he was still on the air, and said it was a private joke meant for his then-deputy press secretary. Democrats used it on bumper stickers and T-shirts, hoping to defeat Perry. But after he was re-elected in 2006, it became a state GOP catchphrase - and Perry supporters even splashed it on campaign memorabilia over President Barack Obama's picture during the governor's short-lived presidential campaign.


The son of tenant cotton and wheat farmers, Perry was born in a cabin with no running water in Paint Creek, a rural West Texas town devoid of stoplights and grocery stores. He was part of a 13-student graduating class at Haskell High School in 1968, but the campus was big enough for Perry to court his future wife, Anita Thigpen. The pair first met at an elementary school piano recital and had their first date when Perry was 16 and invited 14-year-old Anita to watch a school football game that Perry was sitting out because of a broken arm.


While jogging in a rural corner of Austin in February 2010, Perry somehow produced a laser-sighted .380 Ruger from his running shorts and killed with a single shot a coyote he said was menacing his daughter's Labrador retriever. Perry later explained that he often carried a gun while running because he was afraid of snakes and had seen coyotes along his underdeveloped route. "Either me or the dog are in imminent danger. I did the appropriate thing and sent it to where coyotes go," Perry recalled. "It was not in a lot of pain. It pretty much went down at that particular juncture."


In July 2011, amid rampant speculation Perry would enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the governor dropped out of public sight for a few days - only to emerge on Twitter saying his "little procedure" had gone "as advertised." Perry had traveled to Houston for an experimental procedure that took stem cells from fat in his body, grew them in a lab and then injected into his back. The operation is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but was meant to correct a recurring injury and frequent pain. As he later ran for president, Perry claimed there was no lingering discomfort from the surgery, but he sometimes stopped wearing his signature cowboy boots, nicknamed "Freedom" and "Liberty," in favor of orthopedic shoes. After his bid for the White House flamed out, some observers suggested that back pain and the medication Perry was taking for it might have caused ... (See No. 5)


Perry started out as a front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but a series of public gaffes quickly doomed that effort. The mother of all flubs came during a GOP candidate debate in Michigan in November 2011 when Perry said he would ax three federal agencies as president but could name only two. "Commerce, Education and the uh, what's the one there ... let's see," he said, touching his forehead and smirking. Perry tried twice more to produce a third name, then changed the subject. When pressed by a moderator, he made another stab. Still nothing. "The third one, I can't," he muttered. "Oops."

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon



Celebrate that amazing NFC win with a poster or tee shirt featuring The Seattle Times Jan. 19 front page. Order now!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►