Will He Make It Official?

Many observers expect Texas Governor Rick Perry to announce his plans for the 2012 presidential campaign as early as this weekend. Two Rice University political experts weigh in on his chances.

Rick Perry has been widely touted as a Republican presidential candidate who could appeal to many voters, but some wonder if his record as the 47th governor of Texas stacks up to his rhetoric.

Lyn Ragsdale is dean of Rice University’s School of Social Sciences and professor of political science. She thinks it might be a perfect time for him.

“He’s being courted by lots of people within the Republican Party, so it makes sense.”

PH: “Sort of feeling his oats, I guess?”

Ragsdale:  “Uh huh, yeah. I mean, I think it’s time for him. In his own mind even to think about a larger arena for the kinds of politics that he plays in Texas. And that’s gonna be an interesting challenge for him, to see to what extent that kind of thing can be translated into a larger stage.”

Some pundits call him a lucky politician, but luck has a lot to do with success.

Ragsdale says Perry is a very effective and strategic politician.

“I think the event at Reliant was certainly one of those examples of how strategic his is, that he wants  to play to a particular group within the Republican Party, which sort of takes off-kilter Mitt Romney. And suddenly he’s catapulted to even with Romney, particularly because of the social conservatives within the Republican Party.”

The event at Reliant Stadium Ragsdale is talking about, was the prayer rally that drew 30-thousand people.

Bob Stein is a professor of political science and a fellow in urban politics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He thinks Perry’s decision to run was made a long time ago, but there was the issue of money, timing and to people outside of the southern states, where he stacks up in the field of Republican candidates.

“I’m not saying that he’s a likely nominee, and I’m not even saying that if he’s a likely nominee, he couldn’t or could win. But I think right now, what Rick Perry is looking to do is one, knock off Bachmann, Palin, Santorum and Gingrich. Say ‘I’m the most electable of this conservative wing of the party.”

Stein says Perry’s problem might be that he’s too conservative not to win the nomination, but for the election in November.

“A lot of Republican operatives are saying we need somebody more centrist, more moderate, more independent. I tend to disagree. I tend to think that independent voters are not as important as frankly, mobilizing and addressing the base, and Rick Perry does that very well. And if the economy continues to be as bad as it is, almost any Republican who’s credible, and a record that Rick Perry claims to have in Texas is credible, could beat Barack Obama.”

Stein says If Perry does announce his intention to seek the Republican nomination, he needs to build name recognition, and convince even the naysayers, that he is someone who can bolster the Grand Old Party’s return to the White House.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required