Skip to main content

Since Governor Perry formally announced on Saturday that he believes he has earned a promotion from his taxpayer funded rental mansion in Austin to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his campaign has worked to establish a few narratives in the media.  One of those narratives – that the Texas economy has prospered – is getting plenty of scrutiny from the national press.  And they're learning what we Texans already knew: that it's just not true.

While reporters are taking a hard look at Rick Perry's real policy record, at the Back to Basics PAC, we thought we'd dive into the second narrative the Perry camp is pushing: that's the notion that he's an expert campaigner, with impressive electoral prowess and campaign skills.  Sure, he's never lost an election.  We know.  We know.  But what about the elections he won? Yes, his vicious campaigns have defeated some hard-working and well-qualified opponents, but what's the real story on candidate Rick Perry?

It turns out that upon closer inspection, Mr. "Never Lost an Election" is not quite the dominant electoral force his handlers would have Americans believe.  In fact, over the last 13 years, Rick Perry has been one of the weaker candidates Texas Republicans had to offer. Take a look at the numbers for yourself.

These historical election results show two things.  First, sure, Rick Perry has won a lot of campaigns. But guess what? He’s routinely won general elections in a state in which Democrats have simply not been competitive in statewide elections.  He won; but so did every other Republican on the statewide ballot. Secondly, over the last 13 years, Perry has far under-performed relative to other Republicans on the statewide ballot in Texas.

This isn’t a comprehensive review of every single statewide candidate since 1998.  Certainly, there are Republicans who have been less impressive than Rick Perry.  But these numbers are a meaningful window into the performance of Republicans in key races.  

•    In 1998, Lieutenant Governor candidate Rick Perry came in nearly 18% below Governor George Bush.  And he came in over 7% worse than Land Commissioner candidate (and current Lieutenant Governor) David Dewhurst.
•    In 2002, Perry viciously attacked his opponent, accusing him of laundering Mexican drug money.  The result? Perry came in around 7% below Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and a couple points behind Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs.
•    In 2006, Rick Perry won a bizarre 4-way campaign against publicity-minded Independent Kinky Friedman, lackluster Democrat Chris Bell and former Republican officeholder Carole Strayhorn (running as an Independent, with the quiet support of some traditional Democrats).  Against these three underdogs, Perry limped to victory with a meager 39% of the vote.  That same year, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison mangled her Democratic opponent by a margin of 61% to 36%.

That brings us to 2010.  After election another ad in which he accused his opponent of coddling violent Mexicans, Perry defeated Houston Mayor Bill White with nearly 55% of the vote.  His Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, was re-elected with almost 62%.  

But the general election is not the real story of 2010. The real story is that a sitting incumbent Governor – a man who had been a statewide elected official for almost 20 years – faced a three-way Republican primary, and nearly half of Texas Republicans voted for someone else.   Why did nearly 50% of Texas Republicans want someone other than Rick Perry to serve as their party’s gubernatorial nominee?  Maybe it was a reaction to his plan to force 6th grade girls to take a government-mandated STD vaccine. Perhaps it was a repudiation of his controversial Trans-Texas Corridor. But whatever the reason, it is an undeniable fact: just last year, nearly half of Texas Republican primary voters voted against Rick Perry.  Maybe that explains why less than 90 days ago, only four percent of Texas Republicans said they’d support him in a race for President.  

So the next time someone talks about the electoral powerhouse from Texas running for President, tell them to double check their numbers.  Rick Perry might be lucky, he might even be good, but he sure isn’t invincible.

Originally posted to Back To Basics on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 08:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site