Yesterday, Gov. Rick Perry (R) confirmed what a lot of us who are attuned to the Texas political scene had been expecting: he won't seek re-election next year.
Perry, 63, has been governor of the Lone Star State since December 21, 2000, when he succeeded to the governorship upon the resignation of then-President-Elect George W. Bush. He had been elected lieutenant governor in 1998. To those outside the state, he may be best known for either his ill-fated presidential bid in the last election cycle or his cameo in the 2005 comedy Man of the House.
His retirement is significant because it means that, among other things, next year's gubernatorial race will be the first one in Texas without a sitting governor since 1990 (which, coincidentally, was the last time Texans elected a Democratic governor).
Right now, the odds-on favorite to succeed Perry is Greg Abbott, who is currently serving his third term as state attorney general. Should he decide to run, his biggest obstacle(s) to victory would likely come in the primary. In a state where every statewide elected office is held by a Republican, Democrats are challenged by a paucity of viable candidates and a brand problem not unlike what the GOP is burdened with in some other states.
I've never been a fan of Rick Perry, even when he's right. He reminds me a lot of Bill Clinton: a good politician but not so good a leader. You can try and claim that Clinton was/is more erudite and well-spoken than the notoriously malapropism-prone Perry, but if I concede that point, then you must admit that the Gov has Slick Willie beat in the "honor & courage" category, having been an Eagle Scout and served in the U.S. Air Force.
A lot of pundits and political junkies now want to speculate on whether Perry will try and run for president again; I'm not the least bit interested. His official announcement that he wouldn't seek another term as governor piqued my interest because I'm looking forward to Texas finally getting a new chief executive. Expect us to pay special attention to this 2014 race, as it may well shape up to be one of the most exciting primaries in any gubernatorial or senatorial election this cycle.