Longest-Serving Texas Governor Rick Perry Will Not Run Again in 2014–Presidential Race in 2016 Still An Option — Good Bye — Good Luck — Good Riddance — Photos and Videos
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The longest-serving governor in Texas history will leave office after the 2014 elections.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to his record-setting tenure as chief executive of the Lone Star state.
“The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry, a Republican, said at a news conference in San Antonio surrounded by hundreds of supporters.
Perry’s departure sets up the biggest political shuffle in Texas since 1990, the last time there was an open race for governor.
Perry, 63, is already the longest-serving governor in Texas history and has been the state’s chief executive since December 2000 when George W. Bush left to become president.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a rising Republican Party star, has been making moves as though he will seek the governorship next year. He recently released a video, narrated by former senator-actor Fred Thompson, introducing himself to voters – even though Abbott has won statewide elections five times. Abbott also has amassed $18 million in campaign funds.
It’s unclear who might run on the Democratic side. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who rose to national prominence with her recent filibuster of an abortion bill, has said she’ll take a “second look” at the 2014 race.
Perry left open the possibility that he would try again and run for the White House, saying “any new decisions” he will announce “at the appropriate time.” He recently rehired Mark Miner, a longtime aide who was one of the advisers behind his 2012 presidential bid.
The governor touted a long list of achievements, including the creation of 1.6 million new jobs and his signature on seven balanced state budgets. He has been known to push back on new regulations from Washington, and has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s national health care law.
James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said Perry’s tenure will be remembered as the era when conservatives locked up power across the state. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office since 1994.
“We’re going to look at Rick Perry as the person who presided over consolidated rule of Republicans in Texas,” Henson said.
Perry said he is focused on serving out the next 18 months as governor and the results of a special sesion of theTexas Legislature that is going on now. Lawmakers are considering a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that would also close most of the state’s abortion clinics, which Perry vowed would pass.
For much of the nation, however, Perry is known for his ill-fated White House bid last year. Once considered a top conservative alternative to eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Perry briefly was leading in early public opinion polls but faltered quickly.
His “oops” moment during a televised debate, in which he forgot the name of the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate, solidified for many that Perry wasn’t ready for the White House. The Texan dropped out of the 2012 race ahead of the South Carolina primary.
Perry had poked fun at his own debate gaffe on late-night TV and mocked his own candidacy during a speech last year. “The weakest Republican field in history — and they kicked my butt,” Perry joked at the Gridiron Club dinner.
Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said another presidential bid by Perry would require him to be better prepared than he was in 2012.
“If he plans to run for president again, he needs to be free of the governor’s office so he can give his full attention to putting together a top-flight campaign team and prepare himself substantively, especially on foreign policy and national security issues,” Jillson said.
Before Perry’s announcement, some polls suggested the governor was slumping in popularity among Texas voters and not even the favorite among Texans considering the White House. Republican voters in Texas said they would favor home-state Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over Perry in a GOP primary, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll released last month.
Cruz garnered 25% of the GOP support in the poll, compared with 10% for Perry.
Despite some voter fatigue over Perry, political observers said it will be hard for Texas Democrats to unravel the two-decade dominance of Republicans. “The Democrats’ problems in Texas are much bigger than Rick Perry,” Henson said.
Chris Turner, president and CEO of Stampede Consulting, an Austin-based GOP consulting firm that has worked with Perry in the past, gives Davis little chance of winning statewide.
“She’s still a liberal Democrat and this is still Texas,” Turner said. “This state is still going to deliver strong double-digit wins for Republicans.”
Perry’s announcement came at a Caterpillar dealership owned by Peter Holt, one of his top financial supporters and the chairman and CEO of the San Antonio Spurs.
Texas Gov. Perry Won’t Seek Re-Election in 2014
By WILL WEISSERT
Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history who famously muttered “oops” after forgetting during a 2011 presidential debate the third of three federal departments he’d pledged to close, announced Monday he won’t seek re-election next year to a fourth full term.
A staunch Christian conservative, proven job-creator and fierce defender of states’ rights, Perry has been in office nearly 13 years, making him the nation’s longest-sitting current governor.
The 63-year-old ruled out another try for the White House in 2016, but Perry’s decision not to run again for his current post likely clears the way for longtime Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to make a serious run at the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the March primary.
Perry had initially promised to divulge his future plans by July 1 but was forced to push that back following a rare political victory by state Democrats — a filibuster of abortion restrictions during the first 30-day special legislative session.
He called 30 more days of work to finish the job and suggested that would further delay his announcement, but then he distributed an email to a small group of friends and supporters last week promising he’d reveal “exciting future plans” Monday in San Antonio. The Caterpillar dealership he announced his plans at is the same place he announced his re-election bid for a third term in 2009.
Perry had never lost an election during his 27-year political career and became a near-instant front-runner when he strapped on his signature cowboy boots and strode into the crowded race for the GOP presidential nomination in August 2011. A ferocious fundraiser who was buoyed by both tea party activists and mainstream Republicans, Perry had presided over a Texas economy that was booming and had such TV anchorman good looks he was dubbed by some “governor good hair.”
But his presidential run flamed out spectacularly, culminating in a debate where Perry remembered that he’d pledged to shutter the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Education but forgot the other one, the Department of Energy. Quipped late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon: “It turns out George Bush was actually the smart Texas governor.”
Perry first endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the race then turned his support behind the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.
It was a long way to fall for Perry, considered the most powerful Texas governor since the Civil War. The governorship had traditionally been a weak one, with the lieutenant governor charged with overseeing the Legislature.
Perry set the tone for his tenure in June 2001, however, vetoing more than 80 bills in what became known in Austin as the “Father’s Day Massacre.” Since then, he has vetoed scores of other would-be laws, including a $35 billion public education budget and a ban on executing mentally disabled inmates.
But most of Perry’s power has come from his sheer longevity, remaining in office long enough to tap loyalists — and sometimes even his top donors — to every major appointed post statewide.
His tendency to shoot from the hip has occasionally caused problems. Ending a television interview in 2005, Perry smirked at the camera and signed off: “Adios, mofo.” He claimed he didn’t know he was still on the air, but it became a kind of Texas catchphrase.
Four years later, Perry hinted the state might want to secede from the U.S. While jogging in a rural corner of Austin in 2010, meanwhile, he somehow produced a laser-sighted pistol from his running shorts and shot dead a coyote he said was menacing his daughter’s dog.
Just last month, Perry had a notable dust-up with state Sen. Wendy Davis, who led the abortion filibuster and is considered the likely front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination should she run.
Perry claimed Davis should have understood the value of each human life because of her history as a former teenage mother who went on to graduate from Harvard Law School. Davis shot back that Perry’s statement “tarnishes the high office he holds.”
Perry won a seat in the Texas Legislature as a Democrat in 1984, when Texas was still reliably blue. As the state turned deeply red, so did Perry, becoming lieutenant governor in 1998 and taking his current post when Bush left for the White House in December 2000.
Though he has sought to become another Texan in the White House, Perry and Bush actually don’t get along very well. Austin insiders trace the bad blood between their respective camps back to 1998 and Bush refusing Perry’s request to appoint his attorney brother-in-law to a judgeship. And, in 2011, the Bush family endorsed Romney — not Perry.
Still, Perry won re-election as governor in 2002 and 2006, and then trounced U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in what was supposed to be a prolonged and bruising battle for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010. That year’s general election against Democrat Bill White was even easier.