Gov. Rick Perry does not support a Confederate flag specialty license plate under consideration by the state Department of Motor Vehicles board, he said in Florida this morning.
In an interview with Bay News 9 following a breakfast fundraiser on St. Pete Beach, he said the proposed plates, brought before the DMV board by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, would bring up too many negative emotions.
“We don’t need to be scraping old wounds,” he said.
Patterson said he thinks too many people have "burrs under their saddles" with regards to certain historical groups, and that he continues to support the plates from a historical perspective, just as he would for the Buffalo Soldiers, "who were equally as politically incorrect." Though he disagrees with Perry, he said he doesn't begrudge him for offering his opinion, which he believes is the only way to get the national media to stop talking about the plates.
"They have created a controversy where none really existed," Patterson said of the press. "It's pretty damn disgusting, actually."
Proceeds from the proposed plates would raise money to place markers on the graves of Confederate soldiers and create monuments for Confederate heroes. A similar request by Sons of Confederate Veterans was rejected two years ago. But in April, the Perry-appointed DMV board split 4-4 on the plate, with one member not voting. When that member passed away, Perry replaced him with a new member who has not yet revealed how he'll vote.
Until today, Perry’s position on the plates was the subject of great speculation: He hadn’t weighed in on the matter, saying it was up to the board. In a text message to the Tribune, Patterson — who has expressed interest in running for lieutenant governor in 2014 — said he hasn’t spoken to Perry and that the governor “doesn’t appoint the board with any instructions pro or con on any issue.”
“He’s not been involved in this," Patterson said, "in spite of what the press … is absolutely convinced of.”
Opponents of the plates, like the liberal group Progress Texas, which collected 22,000 signatures against them, said they hope Perry does get involved and directs his appointees to vote against them.
"Since the governor appointed all nine members on the DMV board, we hope he makes sure they vote down the state -sanctioned use of this racist relic," said Matt Glazer, the group's executive director. "We further hope that Jerry Patterson and the Sons of Confederate Veterans will not tie up the courts and legal system on this unnecessary matter so that we can focus on the important issues facing Texas."