After serving as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, Perdue became a successful small business owner, starting several agriculture and transportation-based enterprises. In the 1980s, he served on the Houston County Planning and Zoning Board before winning a seat in the Georgia State Senate as a Democrat in 1990. While serving as Senate President Pro-tempore, Perdue switched parties and became a Republican in 1998. ”I expect I’ll be treated like a defecting North Korean general, vilified by some and welcomed as the hero by others,” Perdue told The Macon Telegraph at the time. Perdue served his Middle Georgia district for 11 years, before leaving in 2001 to launch his gubernatorial campaign. In 2002, Perdue defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes in a major upset to become Georgias first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 1872. In 2006, Perdue defeated Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor to win re-election. In a March 2008 report, The Pew Center on the States and GOVERNING Magazine rated Georgia as one of the nations best managed states, giving it an overall grade of B+.
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