“I make this announcement with a deep sense of humility and appreciation for the time and the trust the people of this state has given me," Perry said to a couple hundred friends, supporters and staff in San Antonio.
Perry will stay in office until his successor takes over in January 2015. And the scramble to become that successor, and to move up the statewide political ladder, has already begun.
“It’s a once-in-a-political-generation seismic shift in leadership," said Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri.
And Munisteri isn’t just talking about the 2014 elections. He means all the behind-the-scenes changes coming with whoever takes over the governor’s office.
"So it’s not just a governor switching out," Munisteri said. "It’s a whole administration switching out of one group of people, who have been associated with Gov. Perry, leaving town and a complete new set of people coming in."
Along with candidates for governor, there will be a new GOP nominee for attorney general, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and comptroller. Three people are challenging Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
On the Democratic side, there aren’t any candidates yet. Yes, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has jumped into the spotlight, and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro are seen as national up-and-comers. But Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said Democrats shouldn't hold their breath for 2014.
“Those are candidates of the future. Not in 2014 — maybe 2018," he said. "And so the Democrats would love to put up a slate of candidates, but they don’t want to burn their best future candidates, so I think we’re not going to see major Democrats running statewide in Texas."
That doesn’t mean Democrats couldn’t benefit from a crowded Republican field up and down the ballot. There will be plenty of disappointed and even angry losing candidates and supporters after the primary.
But Munisteri thinks a tough primary can make a candidate stronger and better prepared for a general election.
“Unless some of their players get injured," he said. "So if we can avoid political injury, it better prepares our primary candidates for the fall."
Munisteri said it’s his job to help mend those political injuries — a job that’s bound to keep him busy during the 2014 state Republican convention, which comes about three months after the March primary.