Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced, as anticipated, that he won’t seek re-election. The longest serving governor in Texas history will have been in office for thirteen years when he leaves after the 2014 elections.
As the Texas Tribune notes, this will
… creat(e) … the first open race for Texas governor since 1990 and making Attorney General Greg Abbott the instant favorite to replace him.
As Perry made the announcement, the second special legislative session he has called was at work, including a hearing in the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee regarded Senate Bill 1, regarding abortion. The Tribune reports:
For many Texas senators, Monday’s Health and Human Services Committee hearing was the first opportunity to discuss proposed abortion legislation since Sen. Wendy Davis’ much-publicized filibuster in the first special session.
As committee members started the hearing by debating points of a measure that would tighten regulations on abortion procedures, providers and facilities, they also prepared to hear testimony late into the night — and possibly into the early morning — from as many as 2,000 witnesses. …
Senate Bill 1, and its companion, House Bill 2, would ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization and recognize that the state has a compelling interest to protect fetuses from pain; require doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the facility; require doctors to administer the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 in person, rather than allow the woman to take it at home; and require abortions — including drug-induced ones — to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers.
In his announcement, Perry said it was “time to pass on the mantle of leadership.” He said he’d focus on the next 18 months of his term, vowing to pass the abortion legislation, which possibilities are very good, given that both House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Perry wouldn’t provide any specifics regarding what he’ll do after leaving office. He did leave open the possibility of another run for the Republican presidential nomination, though there seems to be a lot of skepticism about that. As for the state:
(His) departure sets up the biggest political shuffle in Texas since 1990, the last time there was an open race for governor. …
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a rising Republican Party star, has been making moves as though he will seek the governorship next year. …
It’s unclear who might run on the Democratic side. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who rose to national prominence with her recent filibuster of an abortion bill, has said she’ll take a ‘second look’ at the 2014 race.
About Perry’s long tenure in Austin, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin said, via the USA Today story:
‘We’re going to look at Rick Perry as the person who presided over consolidated rule of Republicans in Texas.’
The Tribune provides this analysis:
Perry has 18 months left in his current term, so he’ll still have a huge political megaphone, appointment power and the ability to call a 30-day special session on any topic at any time. No one watching politics in Texas will be surprised if Perry makes full use of his authority and then some during his remaining time in office.
Friends and allies say Perry is energized by the abortion battle that propelled filibustering Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis to stardom and temporarily derailed legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and dramatically tighten standards on the facilities that provide them.
The Texas Senate Committee hearing is live streaming here, with testimony from citizens scheduled (apparently) to go until 9:00 PM.
Tomorrow the Texas house will vote on SB 1’s companion bill, HB 2.
Organizers, for and against the legislation, continue to show up in significant numbers.
As for Perry, the announcement was as expected. Personally, I’m betting he won’t he make another WH run, but he certainly has the ego to try again, so maybe. Whatever he does next, Perry has had a powerful influence on Texas politics, as James Henson notes, “consolidat(ing) … rule of Republicans in Texas.”
Wendy Davis became the face not just of the battle for women’s reproductive rights, but to some extent, for the serious, long-term efforts to “turn Texas blue.” Whatever her decisions, those efforts will also continue, even as Abbott, or whoever becomes the Republican nominee for governor, will almost certainly work to build on Perry’s “consolidation” of Republican power.