There’s your big announcement.
Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that he will not run for re-election next year, creating the first open race for Texas governor since 1990 and making Attorney General Greg Abbott the instant favorite to replace him.
“I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry said. “Today I am announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas. I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state.”
Abbott hasn’t formally said what job he wants, but with the biggest war chest in Texas politics and a growing staff to match, his ambition for the top job in state government is not a secret. And Perry’s exit from the statewide stage after nearly a quarter century doesn’t necessarily end his political ambition. He has said previously he will make his decision about a White House bid before the end of this year; Perry said on Monday that he’d continue to pray on it.
No matter how much Perry involves himself in the matter of state government during his remaining months in office, Monday marks the start of a new era — with new personalities — in Texas politics.
Below him, in races for lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general and other offices, years of pent-up ambition have been unleashed. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is trying to hang on, but his defeat in the U.S. Senate race last year, and a long list of opponents who want his job, will make for a tough re-election race. Comptroller Susan Combs is bowing out after two terms, and a host of other statewide officials are trying to move up the food chain.
Abbott stands to gain the most from Perry’s departure from the race. Because they are both staunch fiscal and social conservatives and share many of the same donors, they would have faced a high-stakes battle for the nomination had they faced off against each other. Republican Tom Pauken, a former Perry appointee to the Texas Workforce Commission, is in the governor’s race but faces an uphill climb.
Another candidate could yet emerge, but with nine months to go before the March primaries, Abbott is sitting pretty.
For such big news, I have very little to say. Perry has been a disaster as Governor, but as things stand now we’re hardly likely to do any better going forward. Policy hasn’t been a priority in this state since at least the first Bush term, and boy howdy, making Dubya look like a wonk is a hell of a thing. I suppose he could run for President again, but frankly I expect him to hop on the wingnut welfare wagon and cash in as soon as he reasonably can. We finally have a closing date for the Rick Perry Era, and I’m glad for that, but barring anything unexpected at this time his style of governance will still be around for the foreseeable future. Robert Miller, the Observer, Jason Stanford, Socratic Gadfly, PDiddie, Texpatriate, BOR, Political Animal, Erica Greider and EoW have more.