How can you tell that sine die is approaching? Governor Perry starts getting involved in the legislative process.
Perhaps state lawmakers are fatigued by Gov. Rick Perry’s long tenure or maybe they’re just balking at his leadership, but the Republican-led Legislature this year has turned its back repeatedly on the governor’s decisions and policy positions.
The Senate has rejected a Perry appointee to the parole board as incompetent for the job. His nominee for Board of Education chairman is in grave danger. The House last month stripped Perry’s office of most of its funding in the budget debate, and the money had to be restored in a joint conference committee.
House lawmakers also voted to abolish the Texas Department of Transportation, which is chaired by Perry’s former chief of staff, and replace it with an elected commission. Not to mention the controversial $555 million in federal stimulus money that Perry wants to reject and lawmakers seemed poised to accept.
Publicly, Perry responds by exuding a “what-me-worry?” attitude.
“I don’t ever get concerned about what goes on in the Legislature,” Perry said recently. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. It ebbs and flows.”
However, this past week, the governor engaged in a major effort to salvage his legislative agenda and public persona.
Perry threatened a special session if his emergency item on windstorm insurance reform does not pass. In state and national publications, he sought to clarify his nationally publicized remarks on Texas secession from the union. And Perry lobbied lawmakers on the House floor for passage of major restrictions on top 10 percent admissions to state universities — a bill that had not been on Perry’s list of priorities previously.
I suppose this is a companion piece to one from a week ago, during which time the McLeroy nomination got re-animated though not necessarily resuscitated. We still don’t know the status of the Texas Enterprise Fund in the budget, and the unemployment insurance bill still hasn’t passed, thanks in part to the ongoing chubfest. A deal has now apparently been reached on the Top Ten law, though whether it really achieves what Perry wanted it to or not I couldn’t say. So as before, tune in tomorrow, or maybe a few days from now, to see how much of a victory Perry gets to declare.
Perry’s staff also had to spend part of the week distancing him from his chief campaign consultant, who told the Dallas newspaper that expanding the GOP philosophical base is like opening a “whorehouse.” Several prominent Republican women denounced the statement in a letter to Perry as “in keeping with how you’ve governed — through division and an appeal to fear.”‘
“The governor is clearly distracted by an upcoming battle in the Republican primary and is probably is somewhat less focused on the range of issues that he might have been focused on,” [Sen. John] Carona said.
Many believe that Perry, by attacking the federal government and the Obama administration, is trying to shore up hard right support for his expected GOP primary re-election challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
“A lot of decisions, from my vantage point, appear to tempered by what appeals to the far right element in a Republican primary, and that can wreak havoc on the system,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.
Yeah, some of us have been saying that Perry’s agenda for this entire session should be viewed through the 2010 GOP primary prism for awhile now. Say whatever else you want about our Governor, he’s not subtle, and while his motives may be unintelligible, they’re seldom a mystery.