No Reelection Bid for Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Announcement Fuels 2016 Presidential Run Speculation
Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on Monday that he would not seek reelection in 2014, spurring speculation that he will be focusing on another presidential run in 2016.
"I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership. Today I am announcing I will not seek reelection as governor of Texas," Perry said in a speech that sounded more like a campaign rally than a farewell address.
Perry used the opportunity to highlight his achievements as governor while vowing to continue to push his agenda in the state until he steps down late next year. "I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state, and I will also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path," he said.
Of course, Perry might just be fleeing to greener pastures. Recent polls show fewer than a fifth of Texas Republicans want Perry to run for governor again. He is currently unpopular with both the left and the right. Progressives despise his traditional Republican positions and his recent attempts to garner support among the conservative base. Last month, state Senator Wendy Davis made national headlines when she filibustered for 11 hours an anti-abortion bill favored by Perry. Though that attempt to pass the bill failed, Perry called a special session of the legislature that will almost assuredly pass the bill soon.
Perry has spoken out against Obamacare, refusing millions in federal aid in a move that most analysts say will make healthcare harder to get and more expensive in the state.
But at the same time, Perry appears quite moderate compared to his potential opponents for the Republican nomination in 2016. During the last primary season, Perry was vilified by conservatives for saying on the campaign trail that children of undocumented immigrants shouldn't be punished for their parents' actions. That statement lost him plenty of support, but the Republican electorate may have come around in recent years on the immigration issue.
Still, Perry will need to undo the damage he caused during a debate in 2011 -- the infamous "oops" moment -- when Perry couldn't remember the third federal agency he wanted to close.
That sound bite, more than any other, defines Perry on the national stage. There are more competent, more conservative contenders for the 2016 nomination, but if Perry can ride out the winnowing process, he could emerge as a center-right alternative to Tea Party-sponsored candidates who will have no chance in a general election. That's if he can beat back Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, rising Republican stars who haven't yet wasted their first shot at national office.
Watch Rick Perry's entire announcement below:
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