Ross Ramsey breaks out his crystal ball and looks ahead to the 2014 election.
Remember this: In his long history in state politics — closing in on three decades — [Rick] Perry has run for everything he said he was going to run for.
Given his history, the safest assumption is that Perry will be on the ballot again in 2014, running for governor. And if the Republicans lose the presidential election this year, he might really and truly be angling for the party’s nomination in 2016.
This makes a lot of Texans — and not just Democrats — slap their foreheads. They cannot believe anyone has been governor for this long, and some of them cannot believe Perry is the guy who is setting the record.
Perry is on the verge of serving as Texas governor longer than Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as president — a 12-year, 42-day run that the Texas governor will match at the beginning of February.
He attracts the same sort of grumbles that Roosevelt did, with opponents mumbling that he has been there for too long, that it is time for fresh ideas, that maybe the state should limit its chief executive’s time in office after all.
Others have lined up, gently. Attorney General Greg Abbott, by all accounts on good terms with Perry, has more than $12 million in his political account and has made it clear he would like to be the next governor. He does not want to repeat Hutchison’s mistake, but he is ambitious. Others are sniffing around, too, looking at jobs that might open up if Perry moves on. Like Abbott’s post.
None of those dreams come true unless the governor is bluffing about his plans.
Right now, as I look ahead to 2014, there are four things I think about that could dramatically affect what that election looks like.
1. Who’s running for what, GOP edition – A few months ago it was possible to imagine that every non-judicial state office up for election in 2014 would be open. Now, with Perry talking about another run for Governor and David Dewhurst potentially losing the Senate runoff, it’s possible to imagine that every non-judicial state office up for election in 2014 could once again have the incumbent running for it. Will any of the three Lite Guv wannabees that hold statewide office – Susan Combs, Todd Staples, Jerry Patterson – stay the course and take on Dewhurst if he loses in two weeks and decides he wants to stay where he is for another term? I think if Perry and Dewhurst stay put, then everyone else just might do the same. If nothing else, that ought to make the case for change in the 2014 election that much clearer.
2. Who’s running for what, Democratic edition – Where the GOP has more candidates than available offices, the Democrats have a nearly non-existent bench, and also have to scrape up a candidate to take on Big John Cornyn. It starts with the Governor’s office, where if San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro isn’t ready to take the plunge yet perhaps one of his predecessors could be persuaded. For Lite Guv, I’d love to see Sen. Wendy Davis take a crack at it, if she’s not in a position of having to run for re-election for her Senate seat. Beyond that, I got nothing. We’re potentially electing some exiting young members of Congress this year, but they’ll want to serve more than one term before thinking about moving up. I hope someone besides me is thinking about this.
3. Lawsuitpalooza – Redistricting preclearance. Voter ID preclearance. School finance. Down the line, possibly a SCOTUS challenge to the Voting Rights Act. In the next few months, courts will have the opportunity to wield an inordinate amount of influence over the 2014 elections. Really, we can’t begin to talk about how the 2014 elections may go until we have resolutions for these items, and one other.
4. The 2013 Legislative session – Regardless of how the school finance lawsuits shake out – ultimately, that will be up to the Supreme Court, and it won’t rule till some time in 2014, with action needed in 2015 – the Lege will have some big tasks to tackle. At its most basic, the revenue crisis is over, so the Lege will have to decide whether to restore some of the spending it so savagely cut in 2011 or sock it all away for a future crisis and fritter the rest away on tax cuts. Needless to say, what they do will shape the 2014 campaigns.
So anyway. You can keep an eye on what Perry and Abbott are up to and try to guess their next moves, for whatever good it might do. There’s a lot more to 2014 than that, and we’re still a long way off from having a clearer picture than we do right now.