Perry: Onward and Fed Upward
Is Perry eyeing something bigger and better than his Texas victory?
On Nov. 2, the Texas electorate gave Gov. Rick Perry resounding approval for a record-breaking third term as governor of the Lone Star State. It was strange, then, that in the election's final days, as the Republican incumbent anticipated victory, he seemed rather disengaged from the process.
With a 13-point lead over Democratic challenger and former Houston Mayor Bill White, Perry's 55% share of a 4,938,910 turnout was his biggest win since his 2002 decimation of Tony Sanchez. Travis County became a source of relief for the White campaign, breaking for him 60% to Perry's 37%. Elsewhere, the picture was much bleaker. White barely took his home precincts in Harris County, with 50.22% of the vote, and had in fact lost the early vote to Perry. White could take some comfort in knowing that he pulled in more votes that any other Democrat on the statewide ballot: No other statewide Democrat could even break 37%. Yet with his margin of defeat so clear, White had conceded defeat by 9pm, with only a fraction of precincts reporting.
In his victory speech at the Texas Disposal Systems' Exotic Game Ranch in Buda, Perry claimed that he had ridden "a wave of dissatisfaction" back into office. Now the question arises: How much further does he intend to ride that wave? On his campaign plane on Oct. 29, he told the Associated Press that his first major commitment wasn't fixing the $28 billion hole in the state budget, but rather going on a promotional tour for his new book, a jeremiad against the federal government called Fed Up! (complete with a foreward from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich). A leaked copy of the book reveals a states' rights diatribe that attacks D.C. for running up a national deficit, without noting that Perry can't pay for the budget he signed last summer. On that same late-October excursion, he told the San Antonio Express-News that he wasn't sure whether he would serve the full four-year term. Add in reported negotiations over a potential appearance on The Daily Show (a seemingly sure sign of testing the political waters outside the state), and the discussion has turned to a potential presidential run.
Could Perry parlay his state-level success into a run for national office? The real question for Texans is what will happen if he does. In 2000, then-Lt. Gov. Perry was promoted to governor when George W. Bush departed to become president. If Perry were to step down as governor before 2012, that would put Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Governor's Mansion (if the long-delayed repairs and renovations are ever completed). That, in turn, would leave a void in the Senate's top position: a void that Democrats already fear may be filled from the radical right by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, whose new tea party caucus could become a powerful tool in taking full control of the state's upper chamber.
|Rick Perry (R)*||87,402||37%||2,733,784||55%|
|Bill White (D)||142,150||60%||2,102,606||42%|
|Kathie Glass (L)||6,990||3%||109,057||2%|
|Deb Shafto (G)||1,212||1%||19,475||0%|
|Andy Barron (write-in)||71||0%||7,973||0%|
|David Dewhurst (R)*||101,546||43%||3,044,770||62%|
|Linda Chavez-Thompson (D)||121,301||51%||1,715,735||35%|
|Scott Jameson (L)||9,965||4%||121,914||2%|
|Herb Gonzales Jr. (G)||3,519||1%||44,806||1%|
|Greg Abbott (R)*||108,430||46%||3,159,298||64%|
|Barbara Ann Radnofsky (D)||118,556||50%||1,652,314||34%|
|Jon Roland (L)||8,866||4%||111,884||2%|
|Comptroller of Public Accounts|
|Susan Combs (R)*||123,331||66%||3,302,456||83%|
|Mary J. Ruwart (L)||30,644||16%||416,708||10%|
|Edward Lindsay (G)||33,683||18%||251,842||6%|
|Jerry Patterson (R)*||98,208||42%||2,996,806||62%|
|Hector Uribe (D)||124,050||53%||1,714,167||35%|
|James L. Holdar (L)||10,723||5%||147,969||3%|
|Todd Staples (R)*||96,818||42%||2,948,992||61%|
|Hank Gilbert (D)||123,593||53%||1,734,615||36%|
|Rick Donaldson (L)||11,675||5%||163,706||3%|
|David Porter (R)*||89,917||39%||2,875,744||59%|
|Jeff Weems (D)||125,111||54%||1,753,625||36%|
|Roger Gary (L)||10,295||4%||138,707||3%|
|Art Browning (G)||6,161||3%||72,143||1%|
All percentages have been rounded.