Gov. Rick Perry won three elections as a Democrat and served as state chair of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign
Presumably this provides Perry with some protection against being called an extremist.
He first ran for and won statewide office in 1990, just as Republicans were beginning their historic takeover of Texas state government. As lieutenant governor, he was able to move into the Governor’s Mansion when George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election. Now the Lone Star State’s longest-serving governor, he has the potential to join a winnowing field of GOP presidential aspirants as a serious contender. . . .
Perry, after all, entered the Texas House in 1984 as a Democrat. He won reelection as a Democrat in 1986 and 1988, the same year he served as state chairman of Al Gore’s presidential campaign.
Whether Perry left the Democratic Party or the Democratic Party left him, to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, is immaterial. He perceived the long term trend of rising GOP political power in Texas. He also spotted an opportunity to capitalize on that trend by running in 1990 as a Republican against a nationally recognized figure of liberal Democratic politics — Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. . . .