The Big Conversation:
In the latest installment of the “will he or won’t he” series that gained more attention after his week-long tour of GOP-sponsored events last week, Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that he will travel this summer to South Carolina, one of the first states to hold a presidential primary. The Austin American-Statesman’s Jason Embry reported that Perry, who has yet to officially announce whether he will seek the White House, would participate in an event sponsored by the conservative RedState blog in August. The trip comes at the same time the state will conduct its straw poll. Perry aide Mark Miner declined to give specifics when asked about the timing of the trip.
“We’re not going to answer a hypothetical,” Miner told the Statesman.
Perry, who the Atlanta Journal Constitution touted Monday as the potential “all-star candidate,” appealing to traditional conservatives and Tea Party faithful alike, would be wise to keep potential voters’ minds on job creation, according to a analysis on job growth in states led by GOP presidential hopefuls. The National Review Online on Monday released an analysis of labor statistics reflecting that if Perry entered the race, he could likely boast governing a state that witnessed more job creation under his leadership than any other potential candidate. The data cites that during Perry’s 10-year tenure in office, the overall job-growth rate was 12.5 percent, topping the 11.6 percent under the leadership of New Mexico's Gary Johnson.
But the data set comes with a few other points to consider, according to NRO: “Of course, some of these comparisons are apples to oranges; Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Perry, for instance, all were governors during the recession, while Romney and Johnson were not. State population changes could also play a role in determining whether a state’s employment numbers surge or decline.”
However flattering the data, Perry was reminded Monday that when the public spotlight grows larger, foes are likely to find their way out of the woodwork. One came in the form of an old story that could resurface as the governor’s name continues to turn up in discussions about 2012. Politico reported Monday that unsubstantiated rumors about Perry’s sexual orientation “were in the ether” during an event in New York when he delivered a keynote speech there last week. Perry aides told Politico they were ready to fight off that smear tactic again.
"This kind of nameless, faceless smear campaign is run against the Perry family in seemingly every campaign, with no basis, truth or success," Perry strategist Dave Carney said.
- As most Texans were sleeping and Monday night dissolved in to Tuesday morning, the state moved one step closer to becoming the next to thrust itself into the immigration-debate limelight. At about 1 a.m., public testimony on the state’s contentious “sanctuary cities” legislation in the Texas House Committee on State Affairs ended after about nine hours of mostly pleading to Republican lawmakers to reject the proposal. The bill, SB 9, by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, would punish local governments that prohibit law enforcement agencies from inquiring about the status of a person lawfully detained or arrested. The arguments were the same heard during last week’s Senate debate and during the regular session. Opponents say it would cast too wide a net and let rogue police officers act as immigration officers under the guise of protecting citizens from crime. Supporters of the measure argue it’s a necessary step to ferret out dangerous criminal aliens intent on doing Texans harm. The bill was left pending, and committee vice-chairman state Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, said there were a few options on how to move forward: It could get voted out of the committee today and placed on the Wednesday’s House Calendar, or members could be made to wait until next week to debate the measure, especially after Gov. Perry’s placement of the TSA "anti-groping" bill on the call. Either way, Menendez said, time is now a factor. By law, the special session cannot extend past next Wednesday, meaning lawmakers have fewer than 10 days to finish the budget, sanctuary cities, the TWIA bill and now the infamous groping bill.
- A battle is brewing in the Alamo City over what Republican senators claim is race-bating by a Democratic colleague. The San Antonio Express News reported Monday that a group of Republican state senators led by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, are charging back against allegations made by state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, that the Legislature has placed a target on Texas Hispanics this session with the contentious “sanctuary cities” bill and the unfair drawing of congressional redistricting maps. As the E-N’s Peggy Fikac reports: “Saying that no major Texas city claims to be a sanctuary for those in the country illegally, Van de Putte wrote in the opinion piece published June 11 in the San Antonio Express-News, 'This is just another cover for the anti-Hispanic agenda being advanced by the Governor and his Republican cohorts in Austin.'” In response, Wentworth and nine of his fellow Republicans put up about $9,000 for a full-page ad denouncing her claims. “The ad called the charge ‘baseless’ and ‘race-baiting, pure and simple.’ Its headline said Van de Putte was being “’called out' for a repeated pattern of race-baiting,’" Fikac wrote.
- It’s back. Perry placed the controversial “TSA groping bill” on the special session call Monday. The bill caused Tea Party loyalists to storm the state Capitol in May after the Texas Senate backed off on passing the bill amid threats that the federal government would impose a statewide ban on flights to and from Texas. The Texas Tribune’s Brandi Grissom and Beth Brown report: “The announcement came after state Rep.David Simpson, R-Longview — a Tea Party favorite — sent a letter to Perry on Sunday requesting HB 41 be added to the call, after attempts to pass it during the regular session were thwarted when the Department of Justice suggested the measure was in violation of federal law.”
"Texas politics is a full contact support, live hand grenades and all; unfortunately there are always going to be some people who feel the need to spread false and misleading rumors to advance their own political agenda," – Dave Carney, consultant to Gov. Rick Perry, on rumors about Perry’s personal life.
PerryTracker: Following the Governor’s Travels – The Texas Tribune
Senate rejects bid to ease new high school tests – The Dallas Morning News
Wildfires ravaging bone-dry Texas – The San Antonio Express-News
Obama to Announce Plans for Afghan Surge Pullout – The New York Times