The San Antonio Express-News and the Austin American Statesman both endorsed Rick Perry. The Express-News was the most enthusiastic of the three big-city papers that favored the incumbent governor (the Dallas Morning News being the third). It focused almost entirely on the governor’s record, particularly his leadership in solving the school finance crisis, his support for economic development (the Toyota plant in San Antonio in particular), and his advocacy of the Trans-Texas Corridor (while noting its reservations about the lack of transparency in the contracting process). The editorial did not dwell on the governor’s deficiencies or those of the other candidates, except to say, “Of course, Perry has flaws, as do his opponents.”

The American Statesman was more restrained. It focused on the last eighteen months of his six years in office:

“We have often been critical of Rick Perry’s leadership, but in the past 18 months, the Texas governor has produced results that required initiative and creativity.

“He enlisted former Comptroller John Sharp, a Democrat, to craft a school finance bill. It was a truly inspired move that generated bipartisan support for the legislation that finally led to an overhaul of the state’s business tax and a bit of property tax relief. He has taken the lead on border security, and gets a tip of the hat for appointments that reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of modern Texas.

“Against a weak field of sometimes right but never uncertain opposition, moreover, the governor looks good by comparison. We would be more enthusiastic in recommending Perry’s re-election if we were sure that the governor will follow the direction he set for himself the past 18 months. Our reservations notwithstanding, Perry, 56, is the best of the five-candidate lot.”

Like the Express-News, the Statesman was critical of Perry’s reluctance to disclose the details of the Trans-Texas Corridor contract, but, also like the San Antonio paper, it supported the concept. After characterizing Perry as “a good retail politician” but “downright tone deaf to the wholesale aspects of the business,” it had nothing good to say about his opponents. Democrat Chris Bell “is adept at neither wholesale nor retail politics. He has some ideas worth looking at, but it’s doubtful that any of his policy proposals have a chance of resulting in action. Bell is right about public education’s over-reliance on the TAKS test, but one issue does not a governor make.” And Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman “are running full tilt to nowhere.”

The two papers make as good a case as can be made for Perry’s reelection: economic development, highways, school finance, and the wisdom of the old saying that you can’t beat somebody with nobody.