The Big Conversation:
If this week was any indication, Gov. Rick Perry isn't going away anytime soon.
Though the governor came limping back to Texas in January after his failed presidential run, the unveiling of Perry's so-called Texas Budget Compact on Monday and the subsequent clamor over who or who may not sign it have demonstrated his continued ability to steer the political dialogue in Texas.
As the Tribune's Jay Root writes today, Perry's newfound relevance has inevitably renewed speculation about his political future — specifically, whether he'll run for an unprecedented fourth term as governor. Sources close to the governor say he has told associates that he'll run again. As Austin lobbyist Bill Miller tells the Tribune: “Everybody who I’ve talked to that’s met with him comes away with the idea that he’s running [for re-election]. That’s what he’s telling them.”
Perry further fueled speculation on Wednesday when he told the CBS TV affiliate in Dallas that his "instincts are very positive" about another gubernatorial run, and that if he decides to run again for president in 2016, he'll be "way in before the summer of 2016 — 2015, even."
But some observers see a game at play. Perry, they say — even if he has decided not to run in 2014 — must act coy about his political aspirations to avoid irrelevance, especially ahead of the 2013 legislative session.
“I think he is re-engaging to make sure he is a player in the upcoming legislative session,” said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, who thinks Perry will forgo another gubernatorial bid. “It’s a good way to remain in the public eye after taking such a beating in the presidential election.”
Then again, Perry has a penchant for surprise: Before announcing that he'd run for a third term in 2010, most thought he'd step aside, and onlookers similarly speculated about a possible re-election head-fake.
- U.S. Senate candidate Tom Leppert said Wednesday that he has invested "several million dollars" in TV airtime to run ads between now and the May 29 primary, the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports. Leppert added that a new ad that the campaign said last week would air on cable in major markets will now air on broadcast stations, making him the only candidate in the race besides Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst who has bought airtime on the pricier broadcast networks. "We think when it comes down to it, we’re in a runoff with David Dewhurst, and we think that’s a good scenario for us," Leppert said.
- The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced its first-ever regulations on emissions released during the natural gas drilling process known as fracking. Though EPA officials said the new rules wouldn't hinder natural gas production, the regulations may figure prominently in Texas, where the natural gas industry has boomed. U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, an Ennis Republican and former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, blasted the Obama administration for the new rules. “Instead of doing proper research and relying on sound science, the EPA is playing politics with our nation’s energy supply and economy," he said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
- The Obama re-election campaign launched its national Latino advertising campaign on Wednesday with the help of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, one of the campaign's national co-chairs. "Make no mistake, Mitt Romney would be the most extreme nominee the Republican Party has ever had on immigration,” Castro said during a conference call with reporters arranged by the Obama campaign, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
'The Republican primary is over. Mitt Romney will be our nominee, and I will strongly support him in every way that I can. But I think endorsements, frankly, are kinda overrated, so I don’t think its going to affect the outcome of the election." — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday
- Report finds women, minorities shut out of city work, Houston Chronicle
- Texas explores California solution to smuggled cell phones in prison, Austin American-Statesman
- Lawmakers eying ways to make city farming easier, San Antonio Express-News
- Why Don't Conservative Cities Walk?, Slate