Democrats Question Perry's Whereabouts, Priorities

Texas Gov. Rick Perry departs a private plane at the San Antonio International Airport during a campaign stop on November 1, 2010
Texas Gov. Rick Perry departs a private plane at the San Antonio International Airport during a campaign stop on November 1, 2010

House Democrats — stirred up in a day of partisan battles over windstorm insurance and a health care compact — took the opportunity to question the whereabouts of the man who called them back for a special session. 

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said that even though Gov. Rick Perry kept lawmakers in Austin to finish up his priorities, and has told those speculating about his possible presidential aspirations that he’s fully focused on the special session, the governor has been noticeably absent.

"While 150 of us here are bottled up in a room passing legislation because he ordered us to be here, you'd think he'd be along for the ride," Martinez Fischer said. "And the fact that he's criss-crossing America tells me he's certainly not engaged in what's going on here in Austin, Texas, and something else seems to have attention."

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the governor is “actively involved in the special session,” and is closely monitoring the bills moving through the legislative process. “It’s unfortunate some Democrats would criticize the governor for promoting the Texas economy and job creation,” Miner said, “which have been the focus of his remarks.”  

In a trip to New York City on Tuesday, Perry’s national profile was high: He replaced Donald Trump to speak at the Manhattan GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner, made appearances on Fox News and, according to one source, even met with people identified as “potential donors” at a law firm on Park Avenue. He’s got more national stops this week, including a trip to New Orleans.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, said in his opinion that Perry hasn't been around as much as he normally is during both the regular and special legislative sessions. He said he couldn't think of another reason for all of Perry's high-profile appearances and national travels other than the governor preparing for a White House bid. "He's running," Pickett said.

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