The Big Conversation
Bob Perry, a behind-the-scenes titan in the Texas political world, has died at the age of 80.
The Tribune's Ross Ramsey reported the news late Sunday. Former state Rep. Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, a family friend, and Anthony Holm, a spokesman, confirmed Perry's death, saying he passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Nassau Bay on Saturday night.
"Bob Perry was a friend to many, many people all over the United States, and he was a true patriot," Jones said. "He will be sorely missed. Those of us who knew him were blessed by his friendship."
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Though he built his fortune in homebuilding, Perry was best known for his generous political donations, which changed the Texas political landscape and at times proved influential nationally. From 2000 to 2010, Perry donated $28 million to Texas groups and candidates, including Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry (no relation). During that time, Perry spent even more, $38 million, outside of Texas, including about $4 million on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, which opposed John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004.
More recently, he contributed heavily to Mitt Romney and Republican Super PACs like American Crossroads and Restore Our Future.
Though Perry mostly donated to Republican candidates and conservative causes, he occasionally supported Democrats, especially minorities, as Texas Monthly noted in a 2007 profile. The magazine at the time called him "the most powerful political donor in the nation."
As Holm, his spokesman, told the Tribune in 2010: "He believes in being active, in both voting and aiding where one can, but also in charitable concerns and the electoral process. He loves the republic and believes it's a duty."
On Sunday, Holm called Perry "one of the finest human beings I've ever met."
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