Rick Perry to Announce Run for Presidency
08/11/2011 AT 05:00 PM EDT
Perry, 61, who is the longest-serving governor in Texas history has said he sought the advice of former President (and Texas Gov.) George W. Bush advice about whether to enter the race.
For when he makes it official, here are five facts to know about the candidate:
1. He's an author
Perry has written two books. On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For, published in 2008, is about the positive influence the Boy Scouts have had on America's young men. In Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, published in November 2010, Perry discusses his support for limited central government.
2. He wasn’t always a Republican
Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1984. During the presidential primary in 1988, he was chairman of Democrat Al Gore's campaign in Texas. Michael Dukakis eventually won the Democratic nomination, and lost the presidential election to George H.W. Bush. The following year, Perry announced he was switching parties.
3. He pals around with rock stars
Perry's friend, rocker and activist Ted Nugent, performed at his second inauguration ceremony in July 2007. The performance – and in particular, Nugent's decision to wear a Confederate flag T-shirt onstage – sparked controversy.
4. He married his childhood sweetheart
Perry and his wife, Anita (Thigpen), met at a piano recital when they were both elementary school students in Texas. Anita Perry received a degree in nursing from West Texas State University and has led a number of health projects around Texas. The couple, who wed in 1982, have two grown children, Griffin and Sydney.
5. He can't resist a good prank
While a student at Texas A&M – where he initially wanted to study veterinary medicine – Perry figured out how to drop M-80s into the plumbing system on the second floor so that they would shoot out of toilets on the first floor. He also, on one occasion, put live chickens inside a fellow student's closet.