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The Brief: July 20, 2011

All it took was a few weeks of gossip and national attention to get Gov. Rick Perry into double digits among Republican primary voters.

Gov. Rick Perry answers a reporter's question about his presidential aspirations during a bill signing on May 27, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

All it took was a few weeks of gossip and national attention to get Gov. Rick Perry into double digits among Republican primary voters.

The Perry-for-president talk started here in Texas months, perhaps years, ago but now appears to have registered nationally, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday.

Perry has jumped to third place among Republican voters, with 11 percent of the vote, trailing only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at 30 percent, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, at 16 percent.

And as Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News, noted on Twitter on Tuesday, Perry seems to pull voters evenly from both Romney and Bachmann, lending credence to the theory that Perry could emerge as the pick of socially conservative establishment types.

Perry, by the way, has yet to announce whether he's even decided to run, but a slow trickle of news over the past couple of months has observers seeing signs pointing in one direction. On Tuesday, donors met privately in Austin to discuss a potential fundraising plan for a Perry campaign. The governor said his decision still may hinge on money.

“Are there going to be people who will make the resources available so that you don’t run out there and embarrass yourself,” Perry said. “That answer is still yet to be formulated.”

If that answer is no, would he be interested in serving as vice president? "I think you kind of go, vice president, governor of Texas," Perry said Tuesday, raising his palms as if weighing two sides of a scale. "And that kind of answers itself.”

As for those signs pointing in one direction, here's another: The Des Moines Register reports that Americans for Rick Perry, a group working independently of the governor, has set up shop in Iowa and South Carolina and soon plans to expand to Michigan.

The group, according to the Register, has raised $400,000 in three weeks.

Culled:

  • Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst quietly made his U.S. Senate candidacy official Tuesday, releasing a four-minute-long video in which he promises a "straightforward, unapologetically conservative" campaign. As the Trib's Ross Ramsey notes, Dewhurst will roll out his candidacy more publicly later this week but won't start the heavy campaigning until September. As for his opponents, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who has so far led in fundraising among declared candidates, was first out of the gate with a response. "It comes as little surprise to me that David Dewhurst has thrown his hat into the ring," Leppert said in a press release. "Like other career politicians, he has long expressed his interest in a host of higher offices, and I’m glad he has finally settled on the job he wants next."
  • Shortly after the Dewhurst's announcement, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson declared his own candidacy for lieutenant governor in 2014. Patterson will likely face Comptroller Susan Combs and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, both of whom have expressed interest in the job.
  • Facing multiple lawsuits largely over minority representation, the state of Texas has asked a panel of federal judges to review the state's new congressional, legislative and State Board of Education redistricting maps, bypassing the Justice Department. In a statement, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the San Antonio Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, criticized Attorney General Greg Abbott's decision. "Considering that the Department of Justice was sufficient for the State of Texas during the redistricting process in 2001 and 2003," Martinez Fischer said, "I find it curious that the Department of Justice of 2011 has suddenly fallen out of favor and that General Abbott has selected to engage in a process that is exponentially more expensive and will ultimately impact the 2012 election calendar here in Texas."

"Listen, get out of your comfort zone. Yeah, being governor of Texas is a great job, but sometimes you’re called to step into the fray." — Gov. Rick Perry, quoting advice he received from his wife, Anita

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