Perry told Bloomberg News that he would announce his decision about whether he would seek a full fourth term as governor by July 1. Why is he holding off on his reelect announcement? Because the office he really wants to run for is president -- although his chances are slim and none -- and if he commits to governor, the reelect announcement will be anticlimactic. There is nothing to stop him from running for both -- George W. Bush did it -- but Bush entered the race with widespread support that crossed party and state lines, while Perry (judging from the latest UT/Tribune poll) would enter the race with roughly half of the electorate in Texas viewing him unfavorably. If he wants to run for president as a sitting governor, he must fish or cut bait on his reelection. It is getting very late in the cycle to make a decision, and rumors are circulating that Greg Abbott is about to announce his bid for governor. That Perry hasn't made his plans known suggests that he won't run for a fourth term. Otherwise he would be trying to cut off Abbott, and there is no indication that he is doing so.
My sense of what Rick Perry is doing by adding items to the call in the special session is that he is trying (a) to stay relevant and (b) to leave his options open. This is all speculation now, but I think Perry would like to find a way to run for a fourth term as governor, and by calling the special session and infusing the call with red-meat issues, he reestablishes his own relevance and isolates Abbott, who has no answer to Perry's initiative.
I attended the signing ceremony yesterday at the Governor's office, which Perry began with a few words about the six education bills he was signing: "They struck an appropriate balance between accountability and flexibility," Perry said.
The bill everyone wanted to know about, of course, was House Bill 5, which represented a major overhaul of the high-stakes testing regime and graduation requirements. Perry had been skeptical about the bill at one time, but on this occasion he was ready with words of praise. "House Bill 5 came a long way from where it started," he said. "We are standing our ground and not compromising our standards. We refuse to dilute our standards."
This morning I wrote about the prospects for a budget deal, the topic du jour that is uppermost in everyone's mind. The post contained, among other comments, this line: "House Democrats complained that Senate budget chief Tommy Williams had 'misled' them." That is what I was told by what I believed to be reliable sources; the problem is, now I don't believe it was true--or that Williams had sandbagged a deal. A Williams staffer asked me to correct another statement in the article, which was that Willams and Perry are close political allies. While there may have been a time when that was true, it is not true today. For example, a rider in the appropriations bill read as follows:
"Of the funds appropriated elsewhere in this Act to the Health and Human Services Commission in Goal B [never mind the jargon], no amount may be spent to modify Medicaid eligibility unless the commission develops a plan to create more efficient health care coverage options for all existing and newly eligible populations, and the commission receives prior written approval from the Legislative Budget Board before implementing the plan."
Perry wanted the bold-face language removed from the rider. Williams stood firm in resisting. He was determined that the Legislature should write the checks. This is as it should be; the Legislature holds the purse strings.
As we tweeted last night as events were rapidly developing, the hopes for a budget deal that would send everyone home happy appeared to evaporate yesterday. House Democrats complained that Senate budget chief Tommy Williams had "misled" them. Dewhurst showed up in the House chamber and disappeared into the back hall. Perry, forever in search of relevance, began contacting Republicans, urging them to vote against restoring the education cuts. Williams and Perry are tight—always have been—and they probably had this play in mind from the beginning; earlier in the month, Perry had indicated to Straus that there was too much money for education.