The Washington Post wondered yesterday just how big an opening Republican leaders have left for a Rick Perry presidential run in 2012, and came away with a pretty clear answer: “Huge, huge, huge,” in the words of New Hampshire operative Mike Dennehy.
This year, the establishment’s indecisiveness has left a field so muddled that by standard measures the top tier is not clearly defined — although leaders limit the group to Perry, Huntsman, Pawlenty and Romney.
“The general feeling is that Superman is in the race, including the likely entry of Rick Perry, and that any one of our governors or former governors would be an excellent candidate and could be elected president,” said Fred Malek, a prominent Virginia donor.
Dusting off various comparisons that have become popular in recent weeks, the Post drew lines between Mitt Romney and a 1996 Bob Dole — the inevitable, if uninspiring choice — and warning of Perry as a latter-day Fred Thompson, all hype and fizzle.
Tom Perdue, a strategist in Georgia, told the Post he’s heard donors around Atlanta would bail from Romney’s camp if Perry announces he’ll run. The Post focuses on Perry’s two-pronged appeal to the kingmakers in each state, as a social conservative and a job-making machine.
As former Colorado Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams put it, “they’re going to be thinking with their heads in addition to feeling with their hearts.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s Mitchell Schnurman reported on one wrinkle in Texas economic success story today (“Texas’ debt growing at faster rate than federal government’s“), pointing out that Texas has been running up serious debt, most of it shouldered by local government:
While Texas lawmakers have refused to raise taxes — and often criticize Washington for borrowing and spending — the state has been paying for much of its expansion with borrowed money.
While Perry has called for a day of prayer for a nation “besieged by financial debt,” Schnurman pointed out that under Perry’s watch, Texas’ debt climbed from $98 billion in 2001 to $216 billion in 2008.
That news isn’t likely to be received well by tea party supporters Perry would count, given how intense the debate has grown about raising the national debt ceiling. But to Texans, it may not exactly be news.
The massive budget shortfall facing Texas this year hasn’t hurt Perry’s national reputation for money management — his supporters are claiming a win because the state still managed to pass a new budget without raising taxes.
And former Houston Mayor Bill White even made the state’s rising debt a campaign issue in Perry’s last bid for reelection, as Politifact reported in 2010: “Debt has almost doubled in Austin under Gov. Perry,” White said. “They think you will not notice this!”
More headlines from around Texas:
Grits for Breakfast: Cold case solved in Houston via testing rape kit from HPD backlog
We’re in an incredibly dynamic period in Texas regarding retention and testing of biological evidence, with a lot of folks presently thinking about the problem. But most suggested solutions require money nobody immediately has to hand.
Texas Watchdog: Friend of Rep. Borris Miles runs Costa Rican ‘medical tourism’ firm; HISD approves $600K contract with doc linked to same firm
Records show Davis’ firm was a major participant in the November medical tourism “familiarization trip” that [Houston schools trustee Larry] Marshall attended in Costa Rica, a trip Miles has said he arranged. Miles has said he wants to help people lower their health care costs by exploring medical tourism.
Postcards: Perry meets with former president of Pakistan in Austin
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said Musharraf, who is in Texas for events in Houston and Dallas, requested the meeting. He said they talked about the Texas economy and Pakistan’s relationship with the United States and Texas.
Texas On the Potomac: Former Rep. Nick Lampson, state Rep. Larry Taylor mull bids for Ron Paul’s House seat
Paul said he expected at least a dozen candidates to eventually join the race to represent the Gulf Coast district stretching from Galveston County and the Houston suburbs to Jefferson County.
Postcards: State Rep. Woolley missed most of special session
The House met on 17 days during its 30-day legsislative session. Woolley was registered as absent on 10 of those days.