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The Brief: June 20, 2011

In the end, Rick Perry's big decision may hinge on one simple question: Does he have enough time?

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

The Big Conversation:

In the end, Rick Perry's big decision may hinge on one simple question: Does he have enough time?

That's what we learned from the governor's swing through the U.S. last week, which started June 12 in Los Angeles at an anti-abortion event and ended Saturday in New Orleans at the Republican Leadership Conference, where he killed with a speech that stuck to his trademark anti-Washington theme.

The tour fueled national talk of the governor's possible presidential ambitions, officially pushing the likelihood of a Perry candidacy — encouraged largely by Republican activists dissatisfied with the current field — from "hypothetical" to "quite possible."

Dave Carney, Perry's top political strategist, told the Tribune's Jay Root on Saturday that the governor wouldn't simply be able to jump into the race. Carney said he's begun gathering information about key primary dates, deadlines and straw polls to help the governor make his decision.

"We don’t even know all the logistics of it. This is not a situation where you throw your hat into the ring and say, 'I’m next.' There’s a lot of effort that has to go into this," Carney said. "If you don’t have a finance committee, people willing around the country to raise millions of dollars on their own with little support from the candidate himself because of the time constraints, then it’s not going to work. … Is there political support out there enough to wage battles in the early states? Those are big questions. We would be running in a field with a bunch of other people who have been at this longer than we have."

Carney said the chances of Perry jumping in the race were "50-50" and that the governor was still at least "weeks away" from deciding anything.

On Meet the Press on Sunday, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said he'd heard Perry wouldn't be announcing anything until after his Aug. 6 prayer event in Houston. Perry may also have its eye on July 15, when campaign finance reports are due: If presumed front-runner Mitt Romney's fundraising lead looks insurmountable, Todd said, Perry may back down. (Find video of the Sunday morning chatter here.)

As the Austin American-Statesman recently noted, if Perry's looking to get in, he may need to act sooner rather than later.

And the latest on Twitter from Nate Silver, the data guru at The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog: "If I were setting odds on GOP, would be about: Romney 7-4, T-Paw 4-1, Perry 6-1, Bachmann 9-1, Huntsman 25-1, Palin 25-1, field 9-1."


  • Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry on Friday released his list of vetoed bills for the session. Among 24 others, the list included House Bill 242, which would have banned texting while driving. "I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults," Perry said in his veto statement. "Current law already prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving. I believe there is a distinction between the overreach of House Bill 242 and the government's legitimate role in establishing laws for teenage drivers who are more easily distracted and laws providing further protection to children in school zones."
  • The list of vetoes also added two items for lawmakers to address during the special session: continuing operations for the Departments of Information Resources and Housing and Community Affairs, whose sunset bills the governor nixed.
  • Runoffs decided a number of high-profile municipal races throughout the state on Saturday. In the race for Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, a former Pizza Hut chief executive, beat former Police Chief David Kunkle. In an uncharacteristically partisan Fort Worth mayoral race, Betsy Price, a former Tarrant County tax assessor-collector, bested former Councilman Jim Lane. And in Austin, Kathie Tovo defeated incumbent Randi Shade in a pitched battle for a seat on the Austin City Council.
  • Under the "sanctuary cities" bill, which the Senate has already passed and the House could pass this week, communities that don't follow the law could face financial penalties. But as the Trib's Julián Aguilar reports, with cities already facing deep cuts, it's unclear how much impact such penalties would even have.

"From my perspective there will be blood on his hands. Every time that we hear about a tragedy related to distracted driving ... I hope that is forwarded to the governor." — State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, on Gov. Rick Perry's veto of a texting-while-driving ban


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