The spectacular flameout of Texas Governor Rick Perry's Presidential campaign has been one of the most heavily-discussed stories of the political season. Perry entered the Presidential race with great fanfare and great expectations from the political commentariat and it was thought that he could unite various wings of the GOP as the Teastablishment candidate.
Needless to say, things didn't turn out quite as well as Perry and many observers expected. Still, many of Perry's supporters, particularly among Texas Republicans, thought that Perry might remain popular in his home state and could come home with substantial political capital as a national political figure, regardless of how the campaign went.
Well, it looks like that isn't going to happen either. According to a new poll from Public Policy Polling, Perry would be in third place if the Texas GOP Presidential primary were held today, with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich ahead of him and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul nipping at his heels. Admittedly, this is just one poll and Public Policy Polling is generally considered to be a Democratic-leaning polling firm. But still, this doesn't look very good for Perry and this turn of events has led Paul Burka, a prominent Texas political journalist and editor at Texas Monthly, to say the following:
The long-term significance of these numbers is that Perry's poor performance on the campaign trail has destabilized Texas politics. Politicians understand the meaning of these numbers. It means that the aura of invincibility that has surrounded Perry during the past ten years is gone. It means that the fear Perry has been able to generate has greatly diminished, if not altogether evaporated. It means that if Perry does run for reelection in 2014 and is victorious, he will face serious pushback from veteran legislators.
This is likely to be the big story for Texas politics over the next few years. Rick Perry has had an air of invulnerability to him for almost a decade and he has largely been able to get his way when it came to Austin politics. Members of the Texas Legislature (including many Republicans) did not want to cross the Governor's Office because of Perry's perceived strength. Such legislators did not want to pick a fight with a person who might be the next Republican Presidential nominee, if not the next President of the United States.
It appears that Rick Perry isn't going to be the next Republican Presidential nominee or the next President and very few people anticipate him becoming either those things in the future. The bloom is off the proverbial rose here and Texas state legislators who had doubts about his various programs and initiatives (and a lot of Republican legislators would quietly fall into that camp) now are likely to feel emboldened. They won't roll over and do what the Governor wants just because he asks them to do so and they want to stay in his good graces. Also, there is a new set of Texas politicians who want to move up the political food chain and they aren't as likely to wait in the wings to see what Rick Perry says or wants before making their moves.
I'm pretty sure Rick Perry isn't a Gang of Four fan. But one of their more famous songs seems pretty apropos in describing his political future after the catastrophe of the past several months, even back home in Texas.