Here’s what I think should happen:
(1) If Abbott isn’t going to run against Perry, he should challenge Dewhurst for lieutenant governor. It’s the best job available (other than governor), and Dewhurst is gravely wounded. Abbott would beat him like a drum. If Abbott doesn’t run, Dewhurst still has to contend with three other likely opponents in Staples, Patterson, and Combs. There goes another $20 million of the family fortune. I don’t think Dewhurst can be reelected in 2014. He’s the guy everybody wants to run against, the walking dead.
(2) Perry has not indicated his intentions, but I assume that he will run again. He has nowhere else to go. There is nothing else he is qualified to do except continue to mess up Texas. He is not going to be the Republican nominee in 2016 if Romney loses. There are too many strong contenders out there: Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, to name a few.
(3) I assume that everyone has heard the rumors by now that there is an effort behind the scenes to get George P. Bush to run against Perry in 2014. It is not too far-fetched that Rove could orchestrate a reprise of W.’s 1994 race, when he arranged tutorials for Bush from Republicans who were knowledgeable about state policy. The issue I see is whether there are enough moderate Republicans left in the party to sustain a race against an ideological conservative like Perry. My view is that star power transcends ideology. Perry ceased to be a star when he “oopsed.” Or, to put it another way, has Perry stayed too long, to the point that Republicans are ready for a new face? There will certainly be questions about whether P. is ready to run statewide at such a young age.
One thing the younger Bush would not have to worry about would be fundraising. The Bush apparatus is still there. P. has to decide whether to roll the dice at this early stage in his career or just wait until Perry finally steps off the stage. A lot of wannabes have perished waiting for him to take that step. I wouldn’t wait. Another huge advantage for P. is that he endorsed Ted Cruz. Perry, as we all know, endorsed the Dew. I can envision Cruz and P. traveling together to fire up Republican crowds, representing the future of the party. Perry would pale in comparison. I think Bush wins this race, and I doubt that Perry would even challenge him.