George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III, (born December 20, 1946) was the 81st Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia. Upon his inauguration in January 2003, he became the first Republican governor of Georgia since Benjamin F. Conley served during Reconstruction in the 1870s.
Sonny 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 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. 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 10 grandchildren (five boys and five girls, the most recent granddaughter was born on June 18, 2008 and the Governor made an announcement via official press release), 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.
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. His committee assignments included Ethics, Finance & Public Utilities, Health & Human Services, Reapportionment and Economic Development, Tourism & Cultural Affairs. He switched party affiliation from Democratic to Republican in 1998 and was re-elected to the Senate as a Republican.
He also won re-election in 2000.
Governor of Georgia
Sonny 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, 52% to 46% (a Libertarian candidate took 2% of the vote). 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. Sonny Perdue is constitutionally ineligible to seek a third consecutive term as Governor in 2010.