Rick Perry the presidential candidate never stopped being Rick Perry the governor, protests of his critics—and the brief concern of a Mike Jackson administration—aside. We like to think he’s happy to be home, but just what sort of governor might Perry be after his first-ever electoral loss (and second, or that matter)?

The near-unanimous consensus is he’s weakened, but there’s no agreement on how much or even for how long. The “what-ifs?” range from resignation and a 2014 primary defeat to reelection and/or another run at Washington in 2016.

Here are some of the observations that kicked around the media on Sunday:

He Made the State Look Bad
“One could be excused for briefly turning away from the wreckage and claiming not to know the man,” wrote the Dallas Morning News’  Marc Ramirez, Todd J. Gillman, and Scott Farwell.

His defeat burst the pride Texas could revel in after providing two of the last four presidents, shrinking the state’s national clout and, for some critics, painting Texans as rubes for repeatedly electing a buffoon.

He’s Fine . . . Mostly
But former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis told the Morning News that Perry is still respected for his successful governorship, and Fort Worth Republican activist Juan Hernández was glad to see him stand behind the DREAM act. “Rick Perry did the right thing as governor, and I’m proud that he did not back off,” Hernández said.

That being the case, Hernandez may not like to hear that, according to theTexas Tribune‘s Emily Ramshaw, JoAnn Fleming of the Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory committee still wants Perry and the legislature to repeal that law. Fleming also did not like Perry’s late, ill-fated attacks on Mitt Romney’s “vulture capitalism.”

But Ramshaw also found plenty powerful people who still support the governor, including Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond, state senator Dan Patrick, and lobbyist Bill Miller.

Ramshaw reported that Perry “spent Friday, the day after withdrawing from the race, making phone calls to thank supporters and smooth over rough edges.”

Presidential Politics Exposed Him
The editorial board of the Corpus Christ Caller-Times wrote that the Republican presidential primary exposed what Perry was like when he could make his own campaign rules (such as not debating, or evading media)—”exposure that Texas voters in 2010 were denied.” 

Presidential Politics Gave Texas a Wake-up Call 
Tom Banning, the CEO of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians told our own Paul Burka (whose “Life After Rick Perry” piece can be found in the February issue) that Perry’s campaign shined a light back on Texas, which will now look at itself more closely. According to Banning: 

He put the spotlight on what we don’t do well. Before he became a candidate, there was just the occasional story about how bad the health care budget is. Then the national press started writing stories, and they juiced up the state press. What started out as a bunch of pixels became a mosaic, and what the mosaic showed was that Texas is not prepared to compete in the future.

Presidential Politics Will Make Him Better Than Ever!
Conservative activist and Tea Party-friendly powerbroker Michael Q. Sullivan of Empower Texans big-upped his man in a blog post, predicting “we’ll see Rick Perry taking an even more active and decisive role in promoting sound policy, limited government and greater economic freedom:”

With a House leadership babbling about seeking new revenues and growing government, we’ll have a governor who has ably forced the Legislature to cut spending and reduce the size of government. Even as some senators are making noise about raising taxes, we’ll still have a governor who has said absolutely not . . .

As he settles back into the full-time swing of life in Austin, coyotes and liberals better beware; my guess is the presidential campaign only sharpened Rick Perry’s aim in Texas.

(Sullivan’s comment about “House leadership” refers to Speaker Joe Straus’s October quote in the El Paso Times that “you can’t cut your way to prosperity,” which Burka also wrote about.)

He’s Done . . .
Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson told Zahira Torres of the El Paso Times that he thinks this is the governor’s final term in any office.

Or We’ll See Him on the Podium with Mitt Romney
This one seems unlikely, particularly with Romney’s coronation now in danger, perhaps as a direct result of Perry’s departure from the race and firm endorsement of Newt Gingrich. But Burka doesn’t rule out Romney and Perry becoming the new JFK and LBJ (who weren’t great pals either):

Perry is central casting’s idea of a vice president. An attack dog who photographs well and has a history of being able to raise large amounts of money.