What Will Perry’s Retreat to Austin Mean for Texas?

By: - January 20, 2012 12:00 am

Just two days before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, Texas Governor Rick Perry ended his campaign. Last summer, Perry had been the national front-runner before he even entered the race, and he enjoyed an almost uncanny winning streak back home in Texas. But Thursday (January 19), Perry told supporters and the media that he saw “no viable way forward for this campaign.”

Perry remains the longest-serving governor of one of the biggest states in the nation. The question for Texans is whether the Perry who returns will be the man who amassed power and dispatched opponents during his decade as governor or the hesitant performer whose gaffes in debates ruined his White House bid.

“He is still the most powerful and influential politician in Texas, but he is also weaker and is no longer viewed as invincible,” Rice University political scientist Mark Jones told the Dallas Morning News .

Since taking over as governor for George W. Bush in late 2000, the Dallas paper points out, Perry has appointed all the members of the state’s boards and commissions. That means some 2,500 people owe him their jobs.

On the other hand, Perry’s presidential bid depleted one of his most formidable political assets, his campaign treasury, notes the Austin American-Statesman. “Perry faces no guarantee of an easy path to another term as governor,” the paper pointed out. “His campaign account contained less than $2.5 million at year’s end, while Attorney General Greg Abbott has amassed $12 million for an expected gubernatorial run in 2014.”

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