Rick Perry’s Exit Unleashes Texas-Sized Political Ambition
Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Rick Perry apparently knows when to fold ’em.
The Republican governor of Texas announced Monday he would not run for a fourth full term, despite it being the “greatest job in modern politics.” But Perry left open the possibility he would mount another presidential bid in an attempt to revamp his image following his disastrous first effort.
“I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry said.
It was several minutes into the event, which reporters said remained a closely guarded secret until the end as to what he would do, before it was clear that Perry was announcing his retirement. He rattled off what he views as his accomplishments. He pledged his focus would remain on Texas and said that any future plans he “will announce in due time.” Instead, he said he will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs.
Jay Root writes for the Texas Tribune that it’s the first open race for the state’s governorship since 1990, and that a Perry retirement from Texas politics unleashes “years of pent-up ambition” below him.
The move comes as Democrats are attempting to boost their own standing in the Lone Star State, and as the state legislature attempts to send Perry a measure banning abortions from being performed more than 20 weeks after fertilization. In his announcement, Perry said he’d call lawmakers back as many times as it would take to pass the measure, which was subject to a contentious hearing into the night. In the last week, Perry was criticized for mocking Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, thrust into national prominence for her hours-long filibuster to block the abortion bill.
Perry has 18 months left in his current term, so he’ll still have a huge political megaphone, appointment power and the ability to call a 30-day special session on any topic at any time. No one watching politics in Texas will be surprised if Perry makes full use of his authority and then some during his remaining time in office.
Friends and allies say Perry is energized by the abortion battle that propelled filibustering Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth to stardom and temporarily derailed legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and dramatically tighten standards on the facilities that provide them.
Perry came under fire for his criticism of Davis — for making it personal by saying that her compelling biography would never have been written had her mother taken a different path and not had a baby. But the controversy over the remarks and the legislation has helped Perry garner attention for his cause just as it has for Davis.
During an appearance on the weekend TV show Fox News Sunday, Perry said his comments about Davis were “meant to be a compliment.” He also said the disruptions by people in the gallery during the abortion debate amounted to “mob rule,” and predicted the GOP-dominated Legislature would soon send him a bill to tighten abortion regulations.
NPR’s Liz Halloran found the day’s events to be a signal that Perry “clearly wants another shot at his party’s nomination.”
Perry’s 2012 chances faded after poor debate performances, most famously forgetting the last in a list of three federal agencies he would eliminate if elected as president. The “oops” moment defined his bid, but he did not drop out of the race until late January. When exiting, he endorsed Newt Gingrich.
On Monday, Perry told supporters gathered for the announcement that his decade-long tenure has been an “improbable journey” and said with emotion in his voice that “each day has been an honor.”
Dan Balz dubs it the opening of “a new chapter” for Lone Star State politics. He writes in the Washington Post:
With Bush in political retirement and Perry exiting the governor’s office, a new generation of Republicans looking to put their stamp on the party in Texas will begin to assert their influence.
One of them is U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who was elected just last year and has become a favorite of conservatives with his sharp-tongued pronouncements. Cruz has been mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, which could put him on a collision course with Perry and others for the support of the party’s most conservative wing.
Standing in line to seek the governor’s mansion and the mantle of top dog in Texas? Attorney General Greg Abbott and state GOP chairman Tom Pauken.
Here’s a profile of Abbott’s under-the-radar abilities, also written by Root.
Balz is keeping an eye on George P. Bush, a grandson and nephew of former presidents and son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who he notes is “beginning his political career by seeking the office of Texas land commissioner.”
With Democrats hungry to break into the Lone Star State and a wide-open field, expect a Texas-sized contest in the months to come.
Watch Perry’s statement in full here or below:
- The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg reported Monday that Mr. Obama is “giving serious consideration” to speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan because he is “increasingly frustrated” by President Hamid Karzai.
- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blamed Senate Democrats and the president for allowing the interest rates on student loans to double at the beginning of this month, saying, “The House has done its job.”
- Boehner also insisted again Monday that border security enhancements must be “in place” before a legalization process for the undocumented immigrants included in legislation can begin.
- Politico noticed Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson, both of Wisconsin, pulled together a small group of their fellow Republicans to talk about the need to pass a comprehensive immigration bill.
- And the Service Employees International Union is running these Spanish-language radio ads urging 10 House Republicans to back a bill.
- PolitiFact comes up with the top five falsehoods in the immigration debate.
- Teresa Heinz Kerry’s condition was upgraded to “fair,” and someone close to the Kerry family said it was a possible seizure that sent her to the hosptial over the weekend.
- Robert Pear examines Kathleen Sebelius’ role as the “No. 1 public advocate” for health care.
- The Associated Press reports the White House said Monday that the federal budget deficit for the current fiscal year will shrink to $759 billion, more than $200 billion less than the last prediction.
- Maine Republican Party Chairman Richard Cebra resigned last week after six months on the job, surprising Pine Tree State Republicans, Abby Livingston reports for Roll Call.
- In New Jersey’s special senate election, Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone has earned the endorsement of the family of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The Lautenberg relatives did not say very nice things about Pallone’s rival, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell hired former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criminal lawyer from the Valerie Plame affair, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. And the Washington Post has the latest on the executive chef.
- Chris Cillizza has a newsflash: Congress is old.
- Former Rep. Bobby Schilling, a Republican, is looking at Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos for a rematch in hopes of winning back his old seat in Illinois.
- Appointed Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., delivered his maiden speech Monday, and admitted he failed civics in ninth grade.
- The rapper-turned-activist best known as Mos Def demonstrates on video what it’s like to be force fed in an effort to draw attention to the hunger strike among prisoners in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Warning: it’s hard to watch.
- A truly awesome Slate piece for true fans of “The Wire.”
- Relive the 1990s this fall — Pearl Jam is going on tour.
- A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan who passed away July 4 has made a final request of the ill-fated franchise. According to his obituary in the Columbus Dispatch, Scott Entsminger “respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.”
- On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Christina is guest-hosting again for Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU 88.5 in Washington D.C. Tune in.
- Health producer Sarah Clune delivers the real reasons behind public smoking bans.
- Don’t miss the detailed reporting from Ray Suarez and Dan Sagalyn of our Foreign Affairs beat about China stealing proprietary data from American companies.
- We examined the Canadian train wreck and updated the investigation into the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed over the weekend.
- You can watch the National Transportation Safety Board’s press conference here.
Latest Qpac Poll on #njsen Booker 52, Pallone 10, Holt 8, Oliver 3 among Ds; for Rs, Lonegan 62, Eck 5.
— Herb Jackson (@record_dc) July 9, 2013
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) July 8, 2013
This student loan debate fight is becoming a Repub vs Dem battle of who can get the most interns to stand behind them at a press conference.
— Ginger Gibson (@GingerGibson) July 8, 2013
If Rick Perry announces he is going to coach West Dillon next season, I am going to lose it.
— The Fix (@TheFix) July 8, 2013
Rick Perry announces he’s going to run for New York Comptroller.
— delrayser (@delrayser) July 8, 2013
Most Republican members of the US Senate are now figuring out a way to sell Ted Cruz on a run for Texas governor.
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) July 8, 2013
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) July 8, 2013
Dear Outlook, please stop autocorrecting “Spitzer” to “Spritzer.” #thanks.
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) July 8, 2013
overheard in the press scrum awaiting Eliot Spitzer at Union Square: “it’s been less than 6 hours and I’m already sick of this whole thing”
— Dan Hirschhorn (@DanHirschhorn) July 8, 2013
Spitzer says “only voters will tell me” whether “five years of reflection” is enough
— maggie haberman (@maggiepolitico) July 8, 2013
Welcome to my Twitter account – AY
— The Duke of York (@TheDukeOfYork) July 8, 2013
Terence Burlij and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter: