Rick Perry's endorsement of David Dewhurst for Senate

It's an open secret in Austin that Rick Perry doesn't love David Dewhurst. The governor has told more than a few unflattering anecdotes about Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst over the years.

So why is the governor endorsing Dewhurst? Well, it's not about Dewhurst. From all indicators, Perry is serious about running for re-election, particularly if Barack Obama is re-elected.

What's the one thing that stands between Rick Perry and re-election? A primary challenge from someone who is more conservative than Kay Bailey Hutchison.

What's the easiest way to win a primary? Convince no one else to run. That's why Perry endorsed Dewhurst.

If Dewhurst loses this 2012 Senate primary, it signals that the incumbent can be beaten. It signals that money and name ID can be overcome. And that might embolden some of the downballot officeholders who have been (im)patiently waiting in line...for over a decade.

It's even more than that though: a Dewhurst defeat imperils the narrative that Perry has promoted in recent years: that the Texas economy is growing due to frugal spending. There's some truth to it (and indeed Perry has fought for lower spending while Dewhurst has equivocated), but there's also been quite a bit of accounting tricks and kicking the can down the road.

Frankly, I think Attorney General Abbott miscalculated in two ways. One, he might have beaten Perry to the punch by announcing earlier that he was running for Guv in 2014. [Conventional wisdom is that Abbott wouldn't run against Perry due to friendship, though perhaps recent polling numbers might strain that? Either way, by letting Perry announce first, he put himself in this position.] Second, he might have endorsed Cruz in the late stages of this primary and taken credit for being the shot in the arm that got Cruz into a runoff. It would have also served the AG well with activists for a future run.

Maybe Perry didn't have a choice. As many people around the Texas legislature have noted, they had to support Dewhurst, because if Dewhurst loses then he is likely to kill their legislation in the next session of the legislature. But one thing is for sure: Perry's endorsement of Dewhurst wasn't really about Dewhurst. It was about Perry.

Posted by Evan @ 05/28/12 08:35 AM


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