Perry: Onward and Fed Upward

Is Perry eyeing something bigger and better than his Texas victory?

Rick Perry
Rick Perry (Photo by Jana Birchum)

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.

Bill White
Bill White (Photo by Jana Birchum)

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.

State Offices

Governor Travis County Statewide
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%
Lieutenant Governor
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%
Attorney General
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%
Land Commissioner
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%
Agriculture Commissioner
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%
Railroad Commissioner
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%

*Incumbent

All percentages have been rounded.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Rick Perry, Bill White, David Dewhurst, Dan Patrick

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