DALLAS – Rick Perry, Texas’ longest-serving Governor, will not seek a fourth term in 2014, he told supporters in San Antonio Monday. He gave no indication whether he planned a second run for president.
“I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs,” he said. “I make this announcement with a deep sense of humility and deep appreciation, and knowing I will truly miss serving in this capacity, because it is the greatest job in modern politics.”
With Perry out of the way, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is expected to have an easier time securing the Republican nomination for governor.
Perry, who led the effort to develop toll roads in the state using private equity, has become increasingly powerful over his 13 years in office through his appointments to boards and commissions that run the state on a day-to-day basis.
Nowhere was that authority felt more than at the Texas Transportation Commission, which was headed by his former chief of staff Deirdre Delisi until last year. The commission operates the Texas Department of Transportation and ranks as one of the state’s largest bond issuers. After stepping down as chair of the TTC, Delisi managed Perry’s ill-fated presidential campaign.
Promoting Texas’ business climate with the same fervor as his fundamentalist Christianity, Perry has taken credit for a robust economic recovery based on the state’s energy resources and its ability to recruit employers.
"Gov. Perry led the great state of Texas during a period that will forever be etched in history for unprecedented job creation and economic growth," said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a Tea Party favorite who defeated Perry's ally Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the 2012 Senate primary.
His aggressive efforts have also led to accusations of questionable fund-raising tactics from companies qualifying for state subsidies and incentives.
Perry is currently under investigation by the Travis County district attorney’s office for funding irregularities in the $3 billion bond program known as the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.
In a controversial veto last month, Perry cut off funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the district attorney’s office in what critics said was an effort to stymie the investigation of him and his campaign donors. The lead investigator said the probe will continue, even after the loss of state funding Aug. 31.
As lieutenant governor, Perry assumed office in 2000 when former Gov. George Bush ran for president. During that span, Perry, a former Democrat, has spearheaded the conversion of the state’s electorate into a Republican majority.
“During Gov. Perry’s administration, Republicans obtained a majority in the Texas House and Senate and elected more Republicans to office around the state than Democrats for the first time since reconstruction,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
Known for harsh rhetoric against the federal government, including a veiled threat to support a Texas secession movement after the election of President Obama, Perry has served in state government since 1984 when he was elected to the state House of Representatives from West Texas. As an Air Force pilot after graduation from Texas A&M University, Perry drew a paycheck from the federal government.
Will Hailer, executive director of the Democratic Party of Texas, accused Perry of “legislating a war with Texas women,” including Perry’s second special session call for a law restricting abortion in the state last week.
In the first special session last month, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibustered for 11 hours, allowing Democrats to run out the clock without passing the new abortion restrictions or a transportation funding measure. Perry responded by calling a second special session on abortion and transportation on July 1.
Hailer also accused Perry of “slashing $5 billion from the budget for public education in Texas in the 2011 session and rejecting millions of Medicaid dollars this year that would have paid for healthcare coverage for millions of Texans.”