Rick Perry - Party Switch - Al Gore

Last Updated : Jul 20, 2011


Governor Perry began his political career as a Democrat in Texas. In 1988, Representative Perry was State Chairman for Senator Al Gore's Presidential campaign in Texas. After that election, and after spending 6 years as a Democratic state representative in Texas, Representative Perry became a Republican and ran successfully against an incumbent Democrat for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. He has remained a Republican.


State Representation

Rick Perry was elected to the Texas State Legislature in 1984. As a Democrat, he represented District 64 - a rural west Texas district. He remained in the State Legislature until 1991. At the beginning of his six-year run in the state House, Perry shot down the notion that he might switch parties despite his conservative leanings that put him at odds with his party leaders. After former U.S. Rep. Kent Hance of Lubbock defected to the Republican Party in 1985, Perry told the Abilene paper he was “disappointed,” saying he planned to “change my party” rather than defect to the other side. Perry was quoted as saying that he wanted to move the party rather than leave it.


State Campaign Manager for Al Gore

In 1988, Senator Al Gore sought the Presidential nomination. For more than a decade, Congressman and then Senator Gore had been holding hearings on the environmental affects of man's behavior and the need to act on ozone depletion. State Legislator Rick Perry was Senator Gore's Campaign Manager for the state of Texas.

In December of 2009, Governor Perry responded to questions by reporters on his previous party support for Senator Gore, and Senator Gore's opposing views on the environment. Governor Perry cited working for the Gore campaign as one of the reasons he switched parties and stated that the work caused him to get religion. 

During the 2010 primaries for the Governor of Texas, Debra Medina began a question to Governor Perry by citing his experience as Senator Gore's campaign manager (for Texas). Governor Perry responded by noting that President Reagan had also switched parties.


Party Switch and Agriculture Commissioner

On Sept. 29, 1989, Perry officially announced at a Capitol press conference that he was switching parties. 

Immediately after switching parties, Governor Perry announced that he would be opposing Jim Hightower for the Agriculture Commissioner. Hightower was a nationally recognized figure of liberal Democratic politics. When Perry won that seat in 1990 he was one of only two Republicans elected to nonjudicial statewide office. Eight years later, Republicans swept every one of them. 


[1] Website: The Texas Tribune Article: Texas Agriculture Commissioner Author: Jay Root Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[2] Website: Politifact Article: Debra Medina claims Rick Perry was a Democrat and Al Gore's campaign manager Author: NA Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[3] Website: DallasNews.com Article: Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes jab at ex-ally Al Gore on climate change Author: GROMER JEFFERS Jr Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[4] Website: Enviroknow Article: Rick Perry Was Al Gore’s Texas Campaign Chairman in 1988 Author: NA Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[5] Website: The Texas Tribune Article: Rick Perry: The Democrat Years Author: Jay Root Accessed on: 07/20/2011

User Comments