A lot of people like Rick Perry, but not all those people think he deserves re-election as Governor of Texas, a position he has held for going on ten years. He is being challenged in the GOP primary by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, not because she has new ideas, but because she thinks it is her turn.
And that's part of Perry's problem. He has been at it for about a decade, ever since George W. Bush left for the White House. But it is also to his advantage. In an interview with Perry over the weekend, he said, "The ten years argument doesn't hold water. If a company has been going strong for ten years, the shareholders don't toss out the CEO." He's right and were he a CEO his management style could be viewed positively — 1000 people a day are moving to Texas for low taxes, jobs, and growth.
In fact, in a down economy overall, the Lone Star State still shines bright.
I asked Perry why he is running for re-election during this period of anti-incumbecy among the voters. "I'm running for re-election because what we're doing in the states will save America," he responded without skipping a beat. He said he is still passionate, he's still making a difference, and he still has ideas he wants to see implemented.
Perry is a passionate states' rights supporter, going so far as to reject stimulus money from President Obama. Perry told me the federal government and the media, which he says is "deathly afraid of an honest, intellectual debate" on the role of the states and federal government, need to be reminded that the federal government was created by the states and not the other way around. Speaking of the constitution on this issue, he said that "single document is so perfect in its formulation" for how the states and federal government are supposed to interact. He mentioned the 10th amendment several times.
Therein lies his opponent's Achilles heel. She has been in Washington, D.C. as a legislator since 1993. Her governmental executive experience was limited to two years. In other words, she has been a long time creature of the legislature and of Washington. Perry has, quite successfully, already defined the race and Hutchinson, whether she realizes it or not, has been embracing Perry's definition.
Perry points out that he has worked hard on welfare reform in his state, as well has overseeing accountable public schools developing an educated workforce, and a great highway system — a big deal in a state as large as Texas. And he's not out of ideas. He says he wants to continue working on new ideas for building highways, managing water resources, and developing alternative energy production in Texas.
Likewise, he sees what's happening in the states as the way for the GOP resurgence. Perry pointed to what's going on in Texas, as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alaska where Republican governors are transforming those states and promoting both limited government and free markets. Perry, as he says, has focused on economic development in Texas and will continue to do so, regardless of what new bureaucratic entanglements Barack Obama tries to create.
I was not sold on Rick Perry early on. But over the past few years he has really surged ahead with great ideas and a strong focus on both sound education policies and sound fiscal policies in Texas. And make no mistake about it, because the record bears it out — Rick Perry is the only conservative running for Governor of Texas.