Rick Perry’s Motives

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

Sixth graders in Texas have known no Governor in their state other than Rick Perry. He was elected the year they were born.

If you’re a Latino sixth grader this is significant. Public education in Texas during Perry’s tenure has been at best stagnant and at worst declining. Public school funding in the state has diminished as minority student enrollment has increased. And over the past 12 years Texas school children have  become a casualty of political battles.

Today’s announcement that Rick Perry will not seek reelection is no comfort. Maybe there is relief in the knowledge that 12 years of neglect will not turn into 16. But striking Perry from the politics of Texas education doesn’t bring an end to the problems.

This is true in more than just education. Today’s announcement doesn’t take Perry off the grid. Quite the contrary, it puts the Texas Governor on a national speculation platform. What’ll he do now?

Last September The Atlantic speculated that Perry might be the “GOP’s Best Shot in 2012.” All because of the Latino vote. And this past May The National Journal resurrected speculation about Perry’s national appeal, pointing to an “overlooked asset: Hispanic Support.”

According to the Journal piece:

“Exit polls show that he won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, a solid showing, in his race for governor in 2010. What’s more, Perry boasts a mixed record on immigration issues that supporters say Republican conservatives can live with and independents will appreciate.”

He didn’t come out and say  he’ll run for president again. But he did what any serious presidential contender would do this far from the election.  “Any new decisions,” he said, will be announced “at the appropriate time.” That’s good news for the Austin office pools, but no where else.

Texas, especially Texas Latinos, will now go into Perry withdrawals (or relief, as it may be). And the sides will begin to be buttressed for the coming election. And that brings me to one of the deepest legacies that Perry has left: he presided over an era when Republicans generally, and conservatives specifically, consolidated their grip on the state. That’s valuable in GOP circles.

The problem for conservatives is that the grip is showing signs of slipping. Demographics and recent women’s politics in Austin have revealed a chink in the GOP’s armor. Maybe Rick sensed something and decided to skedaddle while the going is good.

Whatever his motives, he can’t hold the speculation platform long. He’ll have to signal his next move soon, before we start losing interest or … what was that other thing?

[Photo by DonkeyHotey]

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