2012 Election

Will Texas Gov. Rick Perry Run for President in 2012?

IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews writes today in his "Right Directions" column on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/merrillmatthews/2011/05/25/is-gov-rick-perry-run...

"Gov. Perry insists that he isn’t.  But some folks are convinced, and others desperately hope, that he is.  That hope is largely the result of frustration with the current crop of GOP candidates and Perry’s strong 10-year record as governor of Texas.

At a Donald Rumsfeld speech in Dallas on Monday, the Texas conservatives at my table were lamenting the current presidential candidate plight—or should I say blight.  How could it have come down to this, they wondered?  It’s a lament I hear a lot lately, as have reporters who have been writing extensively about the growing dissatisfaction.

I felt myself feeling a little sorry for the current GOP contenders.  By all measures Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman have remarkable achievements.  Yet none of them seems to excite conservatives and tea partiers, nor for that matter moderate Republicans or independents.  It may not be fair, but it is the case—at least for now.

And so there is this pervasive hope that someone who conservatives can rally around will jump into the presidential race.  That’s where Rick Perry comes in.

One of the country’s most astute Republican observers tells me that he’s sure that Perry is running for president and will announce it after the end of the current legislative session.  When I ask why, he claims Perry is doing all the things you would expect him to do if he were running.  He has a point.

When I cite Perry’s oft-repeated response that he has the “best job in the world” and doesn’t want to leave Texas, the analyst tells me that’s part of his handlers’ marketing plan.  On the other hand, I replied, what else would you say if you really did think you had the best job in the best state in the country?  Sometimes “no” doesn’t really mean “yes.”

That said, if Perry does decide—or has decided—to get into the presidential race, he would have one heckuva record to run on.

The governor has repeatedly refused to raise taxes, demanding spending cuts instead to balance the state’s budget.  Regulations and taxes remain low, making Texas one of if not the most business-friendly state in the country.

In its “Competitive States 2010” study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, it found that Texas had a state tax burden of 8.4 percent, compared to a U.S. average of 9.7 percent.  And the Texas gross state product grew 94.5 percent over 10 years, vs. 66.3 percent for the rest of the country.

More importantly, Texas far outpaces other states in job creation.  Michael Cox and Richard Alm, director and writer-in-residence, respectively, at Southern Methodist University’s William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom write, “From January 2000 to June 2010, Texas had a net increase of nearly 1.1 million jobs—more than any other state by far.  In fact, Texas’ outsized gains eclipsed the total of the next five job-creating states: Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Utah, and Washington.”

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed Texas created 129,000 new jobs in 2009 alone—a recession year.  That was more than half of all the jobs created in the country.

The Brookings Institution published a study earlier this year looking at job growth in major cities.  Texas had five of the top 10 cities, with Austin leading the country as number one in job growth.  In an election year when jobs will likely be one of the most important issues, Perry has an outstanding track record—President Obama doesn’t.

Of course, Texas has faced its share of state revenue decline during the economic downturn.  But the governor never put a tax hike on the agenda and even discouraged dipping into the state’s rainy day fund.  Teachers unions are furious with him for that, so you know he’s doing something right.

The result of the governor’s policies, plus other factors like no state income tax, has led to a significant in-migration.  Cox and Alm of SMU’s O’Neil Center found in a recent study that “Texas led all other states with a net in-migration of 500,000 people from 2004 to 2008.”

People are voting with their feet and moving to Texas.  And if given the chance to make Texas’ policies the country’s policies, lots of Americans would vote for that change.

Oh, and there is one more area where Perry has been a vocal leader: the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which asserts that those powers not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people.  After four years of Obama officials forcing Americans to do things they have no constitutional authority to impose, such as requiring people to buy health insurance, the public might embrace a Tenth Amendment advocate.

Gov. Perry is not without a downside.  He proposed a requirement that school-age girls be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), but the public immediately pushed back and the governor dropped it.  He also proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, which raised concerns about the state imposing eminent domain on lots of Texans’ property.  Whatever the merits and demerits of the Corridor, that project never went anywhere and has finally died.

Like lots of people, I would like to see former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, newly elected Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie get in the presidential race.  All have declined.  That certainly makes sense for Rubio; a newly elected senator just hasn’t accumulated the wisdom and experience to be a good president.  Need I say more?

But if Perry does run, American voters will have a real choice: A principled conservative who has kept his state fiscally sound, lightly regulated, a magnet for business and a place where Americans increasingly want to live.  Can anyone claim any of those achievements from the policies of Barack H. Obama?"

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