Erika Johnsen

Seeing as how Newt Gingrich seems to be the only person in the world still convinced of the invincibility of his presidential run, the sudden departure of several key members of his campaign staff hardly damages his prospects. But the question of his ex-staff’s reallocation amongst the constantly-shifting GOP field has prompted many to speculate about the budding possibility of a campaign by Texas Governor Rick Perry. Some establishment Republicans have been sniffing around for an alternative to Mitt Romney, and think Rick Perry may be just the man for the job. The tables keep on turning:

One top Gingrich staffer, Sonny Perdue, joined the Tim Pawlenty campaign. Meanwhile, two others departing are Rick Perry loyalists, adding to speculation that the Texas governor might be a late entrant to the contest, despite his previous denials. But now that a particularly tough, budget-balancing session of his state's legislature is winding down, Perry might suddenly be less consumed by his current day job…

Perry shares many of Romney's major selling points: He's a smart, fiscally prudent pro-business guy with gubernatorial experience. Plus, he was in the Air Force, worked on the family cotton-farming business, and is a personal cheapskate — the campaign ads write themselves. He holds the powerful perch of chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. And he's good at creating jobs, which is what Americans want regardless of party affiliation right now: The L.A. Times points out that "Perry's state has created more new American jobs in the last four years alone than all the other 49 states combined," a soundbite-ready stat. He also didn't back a universal health-care bill and isn't a Mormon — which might be even bigger selling points in the GOP primaries.

Politico has some more specifics:

“It means they’ll be thinking even harder down in Austin,” said longtime GOP strategist Tucker Eskew of the news that Dave Carney, a consultant with Perry for years, and Rob Johnson, who ran his campaigns for governor, were no longer attached to the former House Speaker.

The immediate question was whether Johnson and Carney, Perry’s chief political adviser, will start planning a presidential campaign for the Texan.

“There’s no way in my opinion that Governor Perry, if he ever did run, would do so without Carney leading the team,” added a friend of Perry, who asked not to be identified.

But Carney insisted that his decision was unrelated to Perry…

But Johnson and Carney helped lead Perry to success over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in a GOP primary last year, and in a general election in which he secured a third term, making him the longest-serving governor currently in office in the country.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.