Perry: Not Running for Governor in 2014
Greg Abbott expected to throw hat in the ring
It's official: After 12 years in office, Gov. Rick Perry announced July 8 that he will not seek re-election in 2014. So what will he be doing? In an ambiguous speech, Perry declared that he will "pray, reflect, and work to determine my own future path."
When Perry exits the governor's mansion, he will seal a term as the longest-serving governor in Texas history, and second only to Iowa's Terry Branstad as America's longest currently serving state boss. A former Democratic state rep turned Republican statewide office holder, he has undoubtedly reshaped Texas in his image: While his pre-exit speech laid out what he felt were his main accomplishments (mostly economic), through the power of his position, he has appointed at least one member to every office in the state and overseen a radical push to the right in the political climate.
Perry's statement does not rule out a second run at the GOP nomination for president in 2016. The recent debate over abortion rights in Texas (see "SB 1/HB 2: How a Lie Becomes a Law," p.12) has raised his star amongst Republican evangelical primary voters. Moreover, while he has promised to spend the rest of his term "working to create more Texas jobs, opportunity, and innovation," Perry now has a lot of time open for fundraising. That said, he leaves Texas closer to being a battleground state than it has been in a decade, and the shadow of his failed 2012 run and infamous "oops" moment may hang long over any future plans. And so far, any presidential plans are mere speculation: Perry will be 66 years old by the next election, making him one of the older White House hopefuls in history.
Texas voters will probably be more concerned about what this means for the 2014 gubernatorial elections. Expectations are high that Attorney General Greg Abbott – arguably one of the state's most reactionary senior office holders – will throw his hat into the ring as early as next week and rapidly become a GOP front runner. His entry will mean profound recalculations among Democrats, for whom Abbott's low name recognition and conservative posturing may mean different odds. Lower down the ticket, Abbott's anticipated exit will open up his office. Railroad Commissioner and Perry acolyte Barry Smitherman has already announced he will run, while Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, and Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, are both thought to be considering a shot.