Rescuing Rick

Governor Perry has little to show for four years in office except for a lot of political posturing and the prospect of a tough Republican primary challenge in 2006. Here’s how his new chief of staff can get him—and Texas—back on track.

Dear Deirdre,

I wanted to congratulate you in person on your appointment as Governor Rick Perry’s new chief of staff, but I got behind on a deadline—not for the first time—and couldn’t make it to lunch. So I hope you won’t mind if I convey my sentiments in writing. Your promotion is quite a feat for someone so young (32) and who began life so far from the Texas political wars (Canada). You’ve got quite a reputation around the Capitol for smarts, and that’s with folks who have hardly heard of Duke or Stanford, much less know about your degrees. Along the way you became an American citizen and, better still, a Texan, thanks to your marriage to Ted Delisi. That’s quite a political family you married into: Ted is a consultant with a long association with John Cornyn, our junior U.S. senator—although, if rumors and polls are to be believed, he might soon succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison as senior senator. You may have heard that Hutchison could give up her seat to … What is it that she’s thinking of doing? Oh, yes. Running for governor in 2006, on a collision course with your boss. (You can read all about it on page 120.) And Ted’s mother, Dianne, is a state legislator from Temple who made our Ten Best Legislators list in 2003, due to her successful efforts to secure funding for trauma centers. I’m sure she’s delighted about your new position, and not only because of family pride. Your predecessor, Mike Toomey, did everything he could to obstruct trauma funding before giving in.

Now it’s your turn. You don’t need me to tell you that you’ve got a huge job ahead of you. Your portfolio covers policy, politics, and management, which is about all there is to this business. You’re facing a school finance crisis and another budget crunch. A criminal investigation of alleged campaign finance violations hangs over the Capitol. Polls suggest that Perry

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