The Big Conversation
As he weighs his political future, Gov. Rick Perry faces an unfamiliar behind-the-scenes challenge.
Perry has said he'll decide in June whether to run for governor again and then make a decision on another White House bid later this year. Either way, as Politico's Alexander Burns writes, the nation's longest-serving governor may struggle to assemble an inner circle that resembles the ones that have repeatedly led him to statewide victory over the past two decades.
As Burns reports, Perry's trusted team has largely disbanded — due either to lingering tension over the governor's hapless 2012 presidential campaign or simply to the longevity of the governor's career.
"I don’t know who or what … the team is, that’s driving the train now," said Dave Carney, Perry's former chief political strategist, adding, "There’s been a lot of turnover. But it’s been 14 years, so of course you have a lot of turnover. And obviously, the presidential campaign was, I guess, a spectacularly public disaster."
According to Politico, Carney has met with aides to Greg Abbott about the attorney general's possible gubernatorial bid but hasn't yet made any plans for 2014.
A Republican "close to Perry's operation," whom Politico did not name, said of Perry's team: "There is no experienced political strategist involved at this point. … It was a tightly knit and disciplined [team] with very few leaks. You can see that the whole team had kind of been torn asunder" by the presidential campaign.
Another unnamed Perry ally said, "Keep in mind, the presidential [campaign] was incredibly — I think it would be an understatement to say 'difficult' situation."
Former Perry spokesman Mark Miner, however, said it was too early to read into Team Perry's plans.
"The focus right now is on a legislative session," Miner said. "Yes, some of the Perry team has moved on to the private sector, but there is a loyal group of people who will be there for whatever the governor wants to run for."
• Texas redistricting fight resumes (Austin American-Statesman): "The recently dormant Texas redistricting issue woke up Thursday with a disagreement between the state’s attorney general and a Latino legislators’ group. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has called on the Legislature to make the current — and interim — redistricting maps permanent. Abbott’s letter to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus — which was dated March 8 and just uncovered by Michael Li, a redistricting expert and author of a redistricting blog — said if the interim maps become permanent, then further intervention from federal courts might not be necessary. … The Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, or MALC for short, responded in a filing with the San Antonio federal court that approved the interim maps. MALC said the interim maps for the Texas House and the U.S. House of Representatives still might not comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act."
• Drought conditions worse in Texas after dry winter (The Associated Press): "More than 98 percent of Texas is in some level of abnormal dryness as spring arrives, conditions that could set drought records and lead to severe water restrictions in some regions of the state. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb., registered an increase for Texas in each of the five levels of drought. Only 1.4 percent of the state is not in drought, compared to 3.6 percent a week ago."
• For Strama, Education Interests Hit Close to Home (The Texas Tribune): "As state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, detailed his objections to House Bill 5 on Tuesday, what he did not mention is that whether students enroll in challenging courses and the number of state exams they must take could affect his livelihood."
Quote of the Day: "Obviously, the presidential campaign was, I guess, a spectacularly public disaster." — Dave Carney to Politico on Rick Perry's failed presidential bid
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