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Inside Texas Politics: The Perry Indictment

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, I talked with host Jason Whitely and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy about what's now known simply as the Perry indictment.

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on August 24, 2014

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, I talked with host Jason Whitely and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy about what's now known simply as the Perry indictment.

The circumstances around the two felony indictments against the governor, handed down by a Travis County grand jury, are by now widely known: After Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunken driving and seen on video behaving about as badly as a person can during her arrest and booking, Gov. Rick Perry threatened to veto state funding to the public integrity unit housed within her office unless she stepped down, a threat he later made good on. At issue is not the veto, which is within his power as the state's chief executive; the indictments speak to his attempt to remove an elected official from office by threat of retaliation.

Since those indictments were handed down, just over a week ago, the story has dominated news cycles in Texas. Perry has managed to have several field days, holding a defiant press conference, rolling out a formidable legal team and even turning his booking to his political advantage, pausing before and after to make remarks to supporters, the press and a few protesters in what can only be described as a booking rally. A real criminal trial may await him, but early on he's been winning in the court of public opinion. His support has fallen mostly, but not entirely, along partisan lines — the New York Times editorial board, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and former Barack Obama senior adviser David Axelrod are among Perry's unlikely defenders. Possible presidential primary opponent Sen. Ted Cruz is just one of many Republicans supporting Perry, but Cruz's Tea Party base hasn't been so quick to embrace the governor.

Meanwhile, it may be that Perry is making gains among mainstream Republicans, but he'd probably like to see all this resolved before early presidential campaigning begins in earnest next year, which is about the soonest anyone expects anything to happen on the legal front. One thing's for sure — the story has sucked all the oxygen out of the gubernatorial race going on right here in Texas. In the last 10 days, hardly a word's been written or spoken about Democrat Wendy Davis or her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott. That's probably not so bad for Abbott, who as front-runner can likely run the clock out. It's worse news for Davis, who has rolled out two very strong attack ads in the last couple of weeks. The big Democratic name come Election Day could turn out to be Lehmberg's, motivating Republicans to the polls.

Also: Jason and Bud talk to U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, who says ISIS could be partnering with drug cartels to infiltrate our southern border; Jason interviews Mike Collier, the Democratic nominee for state state comptroller; and in both an opinion piece and a left-right debate, we hear the partisan points reviewed in — you guessed it — the Perry indictment.

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Greg Abbott Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis