Perry opens campaign for governor

Jan. 8, 2002 at 4:15 PM

HASKELL, Texas, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his first campaign for governor Tuesday in the small West Texas community where he grew up.

Perry, who succeeded George W. Bush as governor, opened his campaign at the Paint Creek School where he graduated in 1968. He is unopposed for the Republican nomination in the March 12 primary.

The 51-year-old son of tenant farmers was lieutenant governor when Bush was elected president, and he assumed the governor's office.

"My fellow Texans, I have been tested," he said. "I am experienced, and I am the strong leader who can lead Texas forward for the next four years."

Perry graduated from Texas A&M University in 1972, served in the Air Force, and then returned to Haskell County where he began his political career as a Democrat. He served as a state legislator and state agriculture commissioner before his election as lieutenant governor.

In his speech, Perry cited his accomplishments in Austin, including passage of a $1.8 billion property tax cut and improvements in the criminal justice system. If elected to a full, four-year term, he said he would oppose tax increases, especially a state income tax.

On the Democratic side of the race, Laredo millionaire Tony Sanchez and former Attorney General Dan Morales are considered the front-runners for the party's gubernatorial nomination. Waxahachie businessman Bill Lyon and Houston lawyer John WorldPeace are also candidates.

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