Wayne Slater has a piece in the Morning News today that touts Rick Perry’s viability for a political comeback. His thesis is that Americans love a good comeback story, and he cites the examples of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. But his showcase example is Tiger Woods, who has regained his position as the top ranked golfer in the world, and, of course, is seeking to win a major championship that has eluded him during his comeback (as of press time, he was 3 under).
The similarities between Perry and Tiger are obvious: Each ruined his own brand. Perry is not even the most popular Republican politician in the state these days. That accolade would belong to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who is himself a likely presidential candidate in 2016. If Cruz and Perry went head-to-head in a Texas Republican presidential primary, who would win? Cruz would mop the floor with Perry.
Perry has exhibited little interest in the issues of the legislative session — that is, until today. His state of the state speech in January was almost perfunctory. The only issue that has gotten his full attention is Medicaid expansion, and his involvement extended only to his insistence that he will not accept the expansion.
Perry’s future plans remain a mystery. A story continues to make the rounds that gubernatorial staffers in his office have told people that their jobs will end in June. (I have heard versions of the story from two lobbyists, for what it’s worth.) I believe Perry will run for reelection because he can’t give up the lifestyle that goes with the job — the travel, the entourage — and also because he still wants to run for president, even though he would be the longest of long shots against the likes of Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Cruz, not to mention the establishment candidates like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. In the meantime, all the wannabes in Texas remain frozen. Running for office is the thing Perry likes best, pressing the flesh, meeting and greeting the local pols. But he doesn’t have a ghost of a chance to be president.