Matt Mackowiak

July 8, 2013 marked the beginning of the end of the Rick Perry era in Texas.

Middle school children have never known another Texas governor in their lifetime.

Anyone in office 14 years will have good and bad in their record. Unquestionably, Gov. Perry is viewed in partisan terms in Texas. From my perspective, his legacy is bifurcated.

The Texas legacy is basically two things: longevity and the strong economy. The rest is short term white noise that will be mostly forgotten.

Let's take these two issues separately:

First, Perry's longevity is staggering, and it's a testament to his stamina, focus, drive and desire to serve the public. He could have left the Governor's Mansion in 2006 or 2010 and cashed in with speaking gigs and corporate boards earning millions. He didn't do that. He chose to continue, longer than any governor in our history, because he thought Texas was worth it and the job wasn't done. I do not believe his record of 14 years as governor will ever be broken - certainly not in my lifetime.

Second, the Texas economy is the envy of the nation. It's that simple. We are blessed to have inherited advantages, like rich natural resources, but our state continues to succeed because we choose to be an attractive climate for businesses to move here and for innovators to start businesses. Texas sells itself, and under Perry, not only have we not messed that up, we've improved it.

Challenges remain: an unacceptable high school dropout rate, a high uninsured rate, and significant infrastructure challenges. Some of this comes from illegal immigration due to our lengthy our border with Mexico, but our explosive growth rate also means government can be slow to react.

That said, the Texas legacy is solid.

The national legacy, as of now, has undoubtedly damaged Perry, given the way his campaign unraveled and the underperforming nature of it. He got in too late, back surgery impacted him, and 'Oops' happened. That history cannot be changed.

But should he run for president in 2016, he has an opportunity to change the perception. He can now ramp up toward running, prepare, travel the world, travel the country, think deeply about what policies the country needs and how he could put the Texas model to work for America.

For me personally, I have evolved on Perry quite a bit. I was initially agnostic, then quite critical while working for then-U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, later a supporter of his presidential campaign and now an admirer.

What changed for me was seeing the goodness in Rick Perry that I had not known before.


Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on ABCNews.com. He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News, FoxNews.com, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site www.potomacflacks.com, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.