If you’re wondering whether my Governor is going to try to become our President, I have no magic window to that, even though I have known him for nearly twenty tears.
But from here in Texas, where all kinds of political plotlines are getting attention, there are some insights I can share as Rick Perry plans a return to private life that may be only momentary.
First, let’s get rid of the dumbest analysis of the past week-- the notion that Perry is not seeking re-election because he feared a loss to pro-choice rock starlet Wendy Davis.
Senator Davis may run, and why not? She is probably the Democrats’ strongest candidate for 2014. But amid all the buzz about Texas shifting from red to purple, be aware that we are nowhere close to electing a Democrat Governor.
If state Attorney General Greg Abbott serves as Perry’s successor, he would be a strong incumbent seeking re-election in 2018, so that’s not exactly a door the Texas Dems can walk through either. So we’re a good decade away from any notion of a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion in Austin.
So will Perry seek another mansion to move into in January 2017, the one being vacated at last by the Obamas?
It would not surprise me. But nor would a decision to stay in private life, to write books or just enjoy his family, including a granddaughter born just a couple of weeks ago. It’s easy to forget because he looks years younger, but President Perry would turn 70 at the end of his first term in the White House. He would, in fact, be the third oldest man ever inaugurated, behind Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison, and just a week ahead of James Buchanan.
But let’s not obsess. No one is talking about Hillary Clinton’s age as a factor, and she has more than two years on Perry.
The 2016 GOP primary race may have a young-folks feel to it, though. In a field that may contain Senator Marco Rubio (currently 42), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (45) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (42), Rand Paul and Chris Christie look like grizzled veterans at 50.
But let’s sift through those names while asking a question about Perry’s chances. If you find yourself underestimating him because of the “oops” moment on a debate stage, think again: Who exactly would bring stronger credentials than Perry in 2016?
Let’s dispense with Christie immediately, because millions of Republicans nationwide already have. I’m pleased to have him as Governor of New Jersey, but his zeal to keep that job has involved episodes ranging from fawning over President Obama to faint-at-best support of the Romney-Ryan ticket to ambivalence over some conservative causes.