Next week, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) and his TexasOne organization are going up with a new $1 million ad campaign in New York meant to lure businesses to the Lone Star State. He will also be hitting the road in New York and Connecticut to try to convince business leaders that his state's low taxes and minimal regulations are right for them.
The 30-second ad, which will run on ESPN, CNN, and other cable channels, features former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, Spy Kids director Richard Rodriguez, and an array of enthusiastic professionals under the tagline: "Texas is calling. Your opportunity awaits."
This isn't the first time Perry has tried this. Earlier this year, he spent $80,000 in ads in Illinois and $24,000 in California, an amount Democratic Governor Jerry Brown memorably referred to as "barely a fart."
Still, Perry is convinced he can tempt New York businesses by touting his home state's lack of an income tax, as well as its low hourly earnings, union membership rates, and worker's comp benefits.
Convincing a business to pack up and move half-way across the country isn't easy. There are, of course, considerable costs associated with relocating. Entrepreneurs pick cities based on factors — location, access to top talent, etc. — other than just the tax rate. Businesses may not like the fact that Texas' education and health-care systems are some of the worst in the nation.
But if Perry looks like he lured even a few businesses away, it will be a big political win for the governor, Mark Muro, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Politico:
This is not necessarily the best way for state executives to spend time, but it’s hard to resist. It’s politically attractive, the chief executive is seen as, quote, "trying to do something." Any successful relocation offers the tried-and-true moment of the ribbon cutting, so it’s pretty intoxicating stuff. [Politico]
The fact that Texas has no term limits for governor offers a political rationale for the initiative.
While many Texas politicians expect him to step down when his third term ends, polls showing him with a significant lead in a hypothetical Republican primary could prompt him to change his mind. Even if he isn't running, he could use political capital gained from this campaign to quell criticism at home.
"Political watchers in Texas say he's playing both an inside and outside game," writes NPR's Elise Hu. "While he burnishes his national standing on the road by touting the state's fiscally conservative credentials, inside Texas, he's allowed for budget growth and spending that sits uncomfortably with the conservative base but wins over establishment Republicans."
Blue state Democrats have so far responded with either amusement or anger.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel made fun of the time Perry couldn't remember the third government agency he would cut during the Republican presidential primary. Sen. Barbara Boxer welcomed Perry to California, telling Politico that he "should learn a lot from my state," particularly when it comes to making health care accessible and providing children with after-school programs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, on the other hand, is using some political jujitsu to bend Perry's attack to his advantage. On Tuesday, Cuomo tried to convince New York lawmakers to adopt his plan to institute "tax-free zones" around public universities in response to the threat represented by states like Texas.
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