In the eyes of many in the nation, Rick Perry is Texas. He’s the guy who represented the state in the much-discussed 2012 Republican Presidential debates. He’s the guy who makes TV commercials trying to persuade their local businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State. He’s, ahem, the guy on the cover of next month’s Texas Monthly. And when he gave an interview to the New York Times Magazine this week, he revealed that there are only three places he can imagine himself living after his tenure as governor is over: Texas, California, and—uh—well, you can guess the third.
Still, the fact that Perry invoked California as a place he’d love to live is surprising, given how aggressively he’s touted Texas to California businesses during his time in Austin. The appearance of new neighbors with California tans is something that most Texans in the major cities are familiar with, and it prompted the Los Angeles Times to declare Perry a “hypocrite” on Tuesday:
Given that Perry has spent so much time encouraging businesses to leave California for Texas — including running pro-Texas radio spots in California that Gov. Jerry Brown compared to minor flatulence — doesn’t that seem a teensy bit hypocritical? If Texas is so darn great, Gov. Perry, why not stay there?
Because maybe Texas isn’t so darn great after all.
Describing Texas as anything less than “so darn great” is fightin’ words around these parts, but Perry’s actual statements about why he’d like to live in California aren’t really opportunity-based or business-based, but a reflection of his love of the ocean and the weather and stuff—and his gushing about the state included the same economic digs that we’ve come to love from the governor. According to the San Francisco Gate:
“Perry told me that he loves California, vacations in San Diego annually, visits the state about six times a year and might even move here in January when he’s done with his 14-year stint running Texas,” writer Mark Leibovich says in the article, which was based on comments the governor made while visiting Los Angeles.
Asked about the possibility that Perry could be mulling the opposite move, spokesman Travis Considine noted his comment to the magazine came after Perry was asked where he would live if he could live in any state other than Texas.
“I would live in California if I could afford it,” Perry said according to a partial transcript of the interview with Leibovich, which Considine provided Tuesday. “Why wouldn’t you want to live out here? Seriously?”
That “if I could afford it” is a pretty telling oh snap moment, since Perry—whose net worth as of 2011 was a reported $2.8 million—is by any standards a pretty rich guy. If he couldn’t afford California, who could? Ostensibly nobody, so move your business to Texas, y’all. Considine said as much in his remarks about the interview, explaining that “California’s high cost-of-living is a contributing factor to why people move away from such a beautiful state.”
So ultimately, Perry’s position is essentially a barbed compliment, framed through the lens of some Best Coast fandom.
Who wouldn’t want to live out by the ocean? Why would you live anywhere else? Taxes and cost of living, clearly. Basically, Perry gets to sympathize with all of the California expats who miss the sea, while reminding them why Texas is the place for them in the end. That’s some shrewd work from the governor.