Rick Perry won re-election for Texas Governor last night, beating the highly competent Bill White with 55 percent of the vote.
National Democrats would be wise to put this man square on their radar screen today, because he very well could be the GOP nominee in 2012.
Rick Perry, constantly ridiculed and underestimated, will begin his 11th year as Texas governor next month.
He has never lost an election, first as a Democrat running for State House, then as a Republican, first defeating liberal/populist champion Jim Hightower for Agriculture Commissioner in 1990. Hightower ridiculed Perry as brain dead and a tool for big corporations.
In 1998, popular and well-known John Sharp took on Perry for the Lieutenant Governor. The effective and strong campaigner Sharp was far smarter and well-versed on the issues and was a strong favorite. He and all Democrats ridiculed Perry, who eked out a cliffhanger.
As Lt. Governor, Perry was measured and relatively even-handed. He was regarded as a moderate who did not abuse the most powerful position in Texas government. The most vile Republican shit did not get passed and some actually good bills passed.
He ascended to Governor of Texas in December 2000 after the US Supreme Court installed George W. Bush as President.
In 2002, Texas Democrats nominated a billionaire Hispanic, Tony Sanchez, to lead "the Dream Team". Perry was outspent and ridiculed again, and again won, destroying Sanchez 57-39.
As Governor, in 2003 Perry helped lead massive budget cuts that harmed millions of Texans, installed a culture of corruption Tom DeLay would be proud of and helped spearhead the DeLay/Rove congressional redistricting nightmare.
By 2006, Perry was on the ropes and seemed by all prognosticators to be toast. But Perry understands Texas (and national) Republicans and out maneuvered his opponents and won again. He only received 39 percent and was deemed "toast" once again.
For the next four years, it was assumed Perry would not run again. That he would step down and allow Kay Bailey Hutchison to become governor. KBH was the most popular politician in Texas, outpolling even George W. Bush even when he was Texas governor.
In January 2009, Perry began his star turn. He condemned the stimulus and Obama and embraced the Tea Party movement long before Sarah Palin even had a thought on the matter. He hinted at secession and ratched up his rhetoric on immigration, taxes and spending. Meanwhile, he used the stimulus to balance the budget, which otherwise would have been $10 billion in the red.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, announced that she was going to take on Perry. She was considered such a shoe-in that Democrats Bill White and John Sharp announced their intention to run for her Senate seat once she won. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the most popular politician in Texas ran against Perry and got the ever-living shit kicked out of her.
Perry, who lost the endorsement of even Republican papers like the Dallas Morning News, and was saddled with corruption charges and repeatedly lying, yet he annhilated a strong, realtively well-funded opponent last night.
Now, he has just won a massive mandate. Texas has a $25 billion budget deficit to close, which will be done with draconian, tea party-approved spending cuts. He will push more social issues and probably "open carry" to allow anyone with a license to pack heat on Texas streets. He will demonize Obama at ever turn, just as he did in this election.
So why should any of you outside of Texas care? Because Rick Perry may very well be the GOP nominee for President in 2012.
Ridiculous, you say. No Texas Republican can win so close to the disaster of W. He is an idiot, a light weight, etc.
Well, he will announce his new book shortly, in which he rips George W. Bush.
Gov. Rick Perry's new book, Fed Up!, is repeatedly critical of former President George W. Bush and defends the rights of Arizona to pass anti-immigration legislation, as well as for California to legalize marijuana.The anti-federal government book defends states' rights to regulate guns, abortion, gay marriage and calls for the overturning of the new federal health care law.One portion of the book blames Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court for the Civil War, claiming they hampered the ability of Northern states to help set the slaves free. Perry specifically cited the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision as federal intrusions into the states' rights of the North."While the southern states seceded in the name of 'states' rights,' in many ways it was the northern states whose sovereignty was violated in the run-up to the Civil War," Perry writes.
Perry will speak about the Arizona immigration plan but, like George Bush, he will not actually implement anything of the sort. He will be able to win Hispanic votes by not crushing them with new laws, and win Tea Party votes by blasting away on the issue.
There's more to worry about. Texas has 36 electoral votes. It is a certainty that the legislature will move up the 2012 primary date to help give Texas an earlier opportunity to shape the campaign. Meanwhile, there is no credible Southern candidate who can compete with Perry. He can rack up a large number of primary votes just from his southern base.
Additionally, national Republicans are desperate to find someone who can caputure the Palin vote of the party without actually being Sarah Palin. Rick Perry is that man. Unlike Palin, he is not an idiot. Unlike Palin, he has a long history of winning elections. Unlike Palin, he does not have a name that is mud with 80 percent of the national electorate. He has chaired the Republican Governors Association and has nationwide contacts for raising money. He is the puppet of home builder Bob Perry, he of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth fame. He also looks like Mitt Romney without the record of flip-flopping, Mormonism or Massachusettes.
He is also a veteran.
Our problem is about to become your problem, America. This man knows how to win elections. He knows how to win Republican votes and he knows how to win over moderates. He is a much better politician than George W. Bush and will be able to distance himself from the parts of Bush that all Americans hate.
National Democrats would be wise not to dismiss Rick Perry and smart to start targeting him now.
I think this is all interesting speculation, and I think one reason to claim you are not running is to keep the target off your back... but I really don't think Rick is running... although this blog from a liberal strangely enough makes the case that he should at least think about it...