ATLANTA — With arms raised, Gov. Sonny Perdue made history, again.
Rallying support: Georgia voters gave Gov. Sonny Perdue the nod, and party faithful ushered him into a second term at the Westin Buckhead in Atlanta on election night. The DVM pounded the table for tax cuts and improvemets to schools. During the campaign, he pledged support to veterinary education. (photos by Rick Newby)
Perdue, a veterinarian, claimed victory in his re-election bid by knocking off Democratic challenger Mark Taylor in a bitterly fought campaign. Perdue won 57.9 percent of the vote with about 1.2 million people casting in his favor.
"Every bill we sign, every executive order we issue, every appropriation we recommend affects someone's life," Perdue told a throng of supporters on election night. "We are going to work hard to move education forward, to manage the business the way you would want, raise SAT scores and graduation rates ... to make a difference for Georgia."
The toast brings closure to a gubernatorial campaign rumble that was billed as heated, controversial and bitterly contested.
The candidates were swinging over everything from minimum wages to allegations of shady land deals by Perdue. The DVM summarily dismissed accusations leveled by Lt. Gov. Taylor that he reportedly purchased $2-million worth of Florida land from a political appointee. Perdue called the allegations garbage.
It didn't impact Perdue's bid. He coasted to a second term in an election in which Democrats made significant gains in Washington. The New York Times reports Perdue was a safe bet since he held the incumbent seat, and amassed a $9-million campaign war chest compared with Taylor's $1.1 million.
"You know we have said this all over the state, we are doing this for an election, we are doing it for the next generation of Georgians," Perdue says.
He spent a political career bucking the trend. Swept into the governor's office after running and unseating Roy Barnes, Perdue became the first Republican to win the state in 130 years, since reconstruction. He is the first veterinarian in history to serve in this capacity.
"It's an awesome stewardship responsibility. And as Mary came out with our oldest granddaughters, we have three grandchildren now, and that is what motivates us to leave this state better than we found it."
In a 2005 interview with DVM Newsmagazine, Perdue says that like veterinary medicine, civics problems require a diagnosis and treatment plan.
"Every issue in government requires a diagnosis. My veterinary training causes me to think critically about possible causes and solutions. It may not be an internal medicine issue; it could be an internal government issue."
Perdue's next term will be spent making good on campaign promises to lower taxes for seniors, to improve education, to crack down on child pornography and illegal drug use and to help businesses thrive.