Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced Monday that he would not seek re-election next year, though he left open the possibility that he would instead pursue another White House bid come 2016.
"The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership," said Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history.
Perry has served as governor since 2000, when he assumed the office after former President George W. Bush resigned to move on to Washington. He won re-election three times, and polls showed him as the early frontrunner to win yet another term next November.
In stepping aside, Perry hinted at a future in politics, saying he would "pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path." The announcement, held at a Caterpillar plant, certainly had the feel of a campaign event; Perry entered to a highly produced video touting his achievements as governor, and spoke alongside a curious new logo bearing his first initial.
What is this weird R-logo Perry is using? His personal “Rick” insignia? pic.twitter.com/emzYEOYu3l— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 8, 2013
Many have speculated that Perry is using his final term as governor to build a better resume for a second presidential bid. He famously flamed out in the last GOP presidential primary with a big "Oops" moment, boasting on national television that he would eliminate three federal agencies, but failing to remember the third.
As Jeb Golinkin wrote recently in The Week, Perry's decision to call a special legislative session solely to pass a controversial anti-abortion bill appeared to be an attempt to woo powerful social conservatives who play an outsize role in GOP primaries.
It is highly likely that Perry is going to ram this legislation down the throats of Texas Democrats. While the courts will almost certainly immediately enjoin its operation pending further review, Perry will nevertheless have guaranteed that he will enter Iowa and New Hampshire with the best culture war record of any Republican in the campaign. That record almost certainly means that Perry will have many more opportunities to remember which federal agencies he plans to cut. [The Week]
Perry has also been actively courting businesses from blue states to further bolster his economic credentials. And in May, he cut an NRA video of himself blasting targets and posing with a semi-automatic assault rifle.
Some conservative commentators think he may have a shot, the "oops" moment be damned.
Rubio is a dead man walking. Paul is a boutique choice. Christie unloved by base. Cruz too acerbic. So why not Perry?— davidfrum (@davidfrum) July 8, 2013
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