George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III (born December 20, 1946) is the governor of the U.S. state of Georgia. Upon his inauguration in January 2003, he became the first Republican governor of Georgia since Benjamin Conley served during Reconstruction in the 1870s.
Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia and grew up in the small unincorporated town of Bonaire in Houston County. 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").
As a youngster, he flew planes and has maintained his pilot's license since.
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 nine grandchildren (five boys and four girls, the most recent granddaughter was born on April 9, 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.
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 re-elected in 1992, 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.
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% in a three way race.
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. Perdue is constitutionally ineligible to seek a third consecutive term as Governor in 2010.
Perdue's main focus in office has been on reforming state government, improving education, and growing the state's economy. 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.)
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.
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 1879 Georgia flag that had been used as the state's official banner since 2003 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 rural 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.
As of September 2007, Governor Perdue remained popular. Perdue had a 56% approval rating, while 35% disapproved, according to Republican pollster Strategic Vision.
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. They also participated in the manufacture of products for the war effort, built naval ships, and provided military assistance and relief efforts...
In May 2004, the land was transferred from Maryson to Perdue's own name. The transfer price was recorded at $305,000. Maryson was dissolved on July 9, 2005, a year after the sale.
Perdue failed to disclose the property or any interest in Maryson on his financial disclosure forms for calendar years 2003 and 2004, as required by Georgia law. 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.