Perry won't seek record 4th term

Texas Press Reports —

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he will not seek re-election next
year, bringing an end to his record-setting tenure as chief executive
of the Lone Star state.

“The time has come to pass on the mantle
of leadership,” Perry, a Republican, said at a news conference in San
Antonio surrounded by hundreds of supporters.

Perry's departure sets up the biggest political shuffle in Texas since 1990, the last time there was an open race for governor.
Perry,
63, is already the longest-serving governor in Texas history and has
been the state's chief executive since December 2000, when George W.
Bush left to become president.

Texas Attorney General Greg
Abbott, a rising Republican Party star, has been making moves as though
he will seek the governorship next year. Abbott praised Perry for
keeping “Washington in check, working to block an intrusive federal
government from meddling in our personal lives and preventing the
heavy-hand of government from stifling small businesses in Texas.”

Abbott,
however, made no mention of his political future. Tom Pauken, Perry's
onetime appointee to the Texas Workforce Commission, is already seeking
the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
It's unclear who might run on the
Democratic side. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who rose to
national prominence with her recent filibuster of an abortion bill, has
said she'll take a “second look” at the 2014 race.

Perry left
open the possibility that he would try again and run for the White
House, saying any “future considerations” will be announced “in due time
and I will arrive at that decision appropriately.” He recently rehired
Mark Miner, a longtime aide who was one of the advisers behind his 2012
presidential bid.

The governor touted a long list of
achievements, including the creation of 1.6 million new jobs and his
signature on seven balanced state budgets. He has been known to push
back on regulations from Washington, and has been a vocal critic of
President Obama's national health care law.

James
Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of
Texas at Austin, said Perry's tenure will be remembered as the era when
conservatives locked up power across the state. Texas hasn't elected a
Democrat to a statewide office since 1994.

“We're going to look at Rick Perry as the person who presided over consolidated rule of Republicans in Texas,” Henson said.
Perry
said he is focused on “actively” serving out the next 18 months as
governor and will work “to create more jobs, opportunity and
innovation.” He is also paying close attention to a special session of
the Texas Legislature that is going on now. Lawmakers are considering a
ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that would also close most
of the state's abortion clinics, which Perry vowed would pass.

For
much of the nation, however, Perry is known for his ill-fated White
House bid last year. Once considered a top conservative alternative to
eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Perry briefly was leading in
early public opinion polls but faltered quickly.

His “oops”
moment during a televised debate, in which he forgot the name of the
third federal agency he wanted to eliminate, solidified for many that
Perry wasn't ready for the White House. The Texan dropped out of the
2012 race ahead of the South Carolina primary.

Perry had poked
fun at his own debate gaffe on late-night TV and mocked his own
candidacy during a speech last year. “The weakest Republican field in
history — and they kicked my butt,” Perry joked at the Gridiron Club
dinner.

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas, said another presidential bid by Perry would
require him to be better prepared than he was in 2012.

“If he
plans to run for president again, he needs to be free of the governor's
office so he can give his full attention to putting together a
top-flight campaign team and prepare himself substantively, especially
on foreign policy and national security issues,” Jillson said.

Before
Perry's announcement, some polls suggested the governor was slumping in
popularity among Texas voters and not even the favorite among Texans
considering the White House. Republican voters in Texas said they would
favor home-state Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen.
Marco Rubio ahead of Perry in a Republican primary, according to a
University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll released last month.

Cruz garnered 25-percent of the GOP support in the poll, compared with 10-percent for Perry, who came in fourth.

Despite
some voter fatigue over Perry, political observers said it will be hard
for Texas Democrats to unravel the two-decade dominance of Republicans.
“The Democrats' problems in Texas are much bigger than Rick Perry,”
Henson said.

Chris Turner, president and CEO of Stampede
Consulting, an Austin-based GOP consulting firm that has worked with
Perry in the past, gives Davis little chance of winning statewide.

“She's
still a liberal Democrat and this is still Texas,” Turner said. “This
state is still going to deliver strong double-digit wins for
Republicans.”

Perry's announcement came at a Caterpillar
dealership owned by Peter Holt, one of his top financial supporters and
the chairman and CEO of the San Antonio Spurs.