Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, announced today that he will not seek re-election to a fourth term last year, but he declined to completely close the door on his political career, leaving open the possibility that he will make a second try at the White House in 2016, 1200 WOAI news reports.
“No other state can match what we have accomplished together,” Perry said. “Today, Texas is the envy of the nation.”
Perry, 63, moved up from Lieutenant Governor in December of 2000 when George W. Bush resigned to take over as President. In his three races for re-election he has never been seriously challenged, and in 2010, Perry clobbered then U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison when she ran against Perry in the Republican primary for governor.
Perry said under his leadership, Texas has ‘created the strongest economy in the nation,’ and he bragged about his commitment to low taxes and limited regulation of employers. Perry made today’s announcement in the sprawling showroom of the country’s largest Caterpillar dealer, owned by his long time backer and San Antonio Spurs President Peter Holt, where he was surrounded by construction equipment.
“Thirty percent of the net new jobs created in America in the last decade were created right here in Texas,” Perry said, adding that Texas has created 1.6 million jobs since he became governor.
Perry didn’t mention a possible second run for President in 2016, but many of his supporters left thinking that another White House bid is inevitable.
“A lot of what he said today, the way he positioned things,” said Kevin Wolff, a prominent San Antonio Republican who was in the crowd. “He wanted to make sure that all Texans to know that he will continue to work as the governor, but he wanted to make sure he left the door open to make some announcement later.”
Perry has said that one of the reasons his 2012 run flopped, culminating in an embarrassing brain freeze in a Michigan debate where he was unable to remember the three branches of government he hoped to eliminate was that he ‘parachuted in’ in the last minute without proper preparation.
Cal Jillson, a political analyst at Southern Methodist University, says if Perry wants to position himself for a Presidential race, he made the right move today.
“His campaign in 2012 went so badly because he was not prepared for a Presidential contest,” Jillson said. “This gives him time to put together a national team, and to prepare in areas that he doesn’t know much about, so he is a more competent candidate for President.”
Perry’s announcement also sets off a scramble for top offices in the nation’s second largest state, and Texas Republican Party Executive Director Munisteri says that will build excitement for Republicans statewide.
“It’s the domino effect that this creates,” he said. “Other people will move up to run for governor who then vacate those offices, and that will trickle down to plenty of opportunities for Republicans who want to move up.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has appealed to the conservative party activists who are key to winning the nomination for governor by fighting many of President Obama’s initiatives in court, is seen as the most likely candidate for governor.
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer said the departure of Perry leaves behind a legacy of “slashing five billion dollars from the budget for public education, rejecting millions of Medicaid dollars, and leaving one in four Texans living below the poverty line.”
But analysts don’t expect Perry’s retirement to herald the end of two decades of Republican Party dominance in Texas. No Democrat has been elected to statewide executive office in the state since 1994. Jillson says that Republican dominance won’t change for ten to fifteen years.
“A lot of people point to the mid 2020 as the time when demographics, especially the rising Hispanic population, will shift Texas to two party competition,” he said. “I don’t see it happening before then.”