We’ve given a lot of attention in The Transom to the GOP frontrunner, Jeb Bush, and to the governors and senators who are most likely to seek the 2016 nomination – but it’s possible I’ve given short shrift to one dark horse candidate who is engaging in a very purposeful process ramping up to a run: Texas Governor Rick Perry, so overestimated in 2012 but perhaps underestimated in 2016. He’s been gathering think tankers and others in Austin, hiring key figures, and seems intent on doing the due diligence he didn’t last time around. But whether Perry ultimately jumps in or not, his agenda is going to have a place on the stage in 2016 – because so much of it has been adopted by others in the race.
The most recent example was in Iowa, where Mike Huckabee started proclaiming the virtues of judicial term limits, something that’s been a part of Perry’s populist agenda for years. http://vlt.tc/1tel Perry called for privatizing airport security/busting TSA unions, which was added to the 2012 GOP platform. Perry’s 2012 push for a flat tax is an idea that has since been endorsed by Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker. On foreign policy, his calls during the campaign for cuts to foreign aid to other regimes was pushed by Paul, particularly for Pakistan; he called for sanctions to the Iranian Central Bank, which Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the following year. And on education, after criticizing Mitt Romney over his praise for Race to the Top funding during the election, Perry was ahead of the curve in being one of the initial four states rejecting Common Core, a position now held by Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum and others.
On immigration, where Perry suffered for his views in the 2012 primary, you see wider acceptance of those views in the 2016 field: he was forced to defend his first-of-its-kind in-state tuition law for the children of illegal immigrants, a law that has since been endorsed by Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and others. Perry’s position on reform – secure the borders first, then deal with those here illegally – didn’t originate with him, but has since become the go-to line for politicians who oppose comprehensive deal-making on the subject. For as much as Perry’s “I don’t think you have a heart” line hurt him in 2012, it will be interesting to see how he is positioned in a field with a larger number of politicians who favor more immigration and reform, generally.
Perry’s anticipated run in 2016 will be a challenge. He’ll be up against longer odds with a group of voters who no longer view him as a white knight, and the field is much stronger this time around. But he’ll still have a story to tell about the enormous successes under his governorship, and he has a gift for retail politics unmatched in the current field. Additionally, the process of going through 2012’s trainwreck should’ve given him some humility about his approach to a run. We’ll see if that pays dividends. If not, he can always retire to a ranch, shoot cans off of fenceposts, and watch others run with his ideas.