Governor Rick Perry is returning home after poor debate performances and political gaffes forced him to end his race for president. KERA’s Shelley Kofler looks at whether Perry’s national pummeling will cut into his political power in Texas.
In the solidly republican community of Highland Park voters like Dora Rangel seemed relieved Rick Perry has ended his presidential campaign.
Rangel: I think he’s been damaged. I think going out and making some of the comments he’s made publicly definitely will take a hit on the image people had of him.
Republican Miya King says Perry’s poor debate performances, memory lapses and increasingly strident comments were embarrassing.
King: He just needed a filter essentially. Some of the things that came out should have stayed in.
But Alcie Massman says she still supports Perry and welcomes him home.
Massman: He did say some things that were embarrassing but I think if you kind of live up to your mistakes and say, “ I did goof in some areas,” I think that means a lot. And I think it is probably better for Texas for him to come back and focus on being governor.
As Texas’s longest serving governor Perry was unquestionably the most powerful republican official in Texas when he entered the race for president.
He’s made hundreds of political appointments placing friends in influential positions. Lobbyists and lawmakers who want to push something through the legislature avoid clashing with Perry knowing he can kill bills with the stroke of his veto pen.
SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says Perry’s political credentials may be tarnished but he’s still the governor and that counts.
Jillson: The legislature doesn’t come back into session unto January, a year from now. So, he will get back into the governor’s office. He will rebuild his influence with the lobby. He’ll move around the state talking with civic groups trying to reestablish a sense of command and authority. And when the legislature gets here every one of those legislators know that if their bills are going to be signed at the end of the term he’s the guy with the pen.
But other ambitious Texas Republicans may now be weighing Perry’s vulnerability. Could they defeat him if he runs for reelection in 2014? Could they successfully challenge him in the meantime on some big initiative? Texas Tribune Managing Editor Ross Ramsey has covered Perry and state government for more than 20 years.
Ramsey: If other Republicans and other politicians in Texas look at Perry and say, “That guy’s still the king of the mountain here and can’t be defeated,” then he’s got the power to get his ideas through in the legislature and in the government. If on the other hand people say, “Well he’s not as strong as we thought he was,” or “He was two years ago we don’t have to listen to him as much maybe we should push our own ideas,” that’s a different equation.
In Highland Park, Republican Jack Hawk thinks Perry still holds sway.
Hawk: When I think about him I think about the old saying about the big fish in the little pond. The big fish went to the big pond and he turned out to be a little fish. I think he’s still a big fish in Texas.
But Hawk says Perry’s may be swimming upstream.
Hawk: I can see that some people might think that his time has come and gone.