SAN ANTONIO — After guiding the state for more than a decade, Republican Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that it’s time to let someone else take the reins — potentially Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has made no secret of his desire to serve as Texas’ next governor — as he considers making a second bid at the White House.
But he has no plans of stepping down early.
During a much anticipated announcement of his political plans, delivered before hundreds of friends and supporters in a heavy equipment warehouse in San Antonio, Perry stressed that he will serve out his current term, which ends in 2015.
The governor’s news kicks into overdrive a long-anticipated game of musical chairs among top state office holders, seeking to move up in the political food chain, as well as opening the door for other Texans to seek elected office.
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It’s been “an improbable journey,” Perry, 63, Texas’ 47th governor, said of his record-breaking tenure. He said he remains “excited” about Texas and its economic future, and pledged to remain active as the state’s chief executive as the battle plays out to take his place.
Speculation instantly focused on Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott as Perry’s potential Republican successor. Many Democrats statewide and beyond are urging state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth to seek their party’s nomination.
Statewide Republican officeholders, who have kept Democrats shut out of the top positions since the late 1990s, essentially have remained in place — and somewhat in limbo — for a decade with Perry at the helm.
Political repositioning will go on for months, but Monday belonged to Perry.
Monday's announcement by Perry came after months of speculation about his future political plans. Many have wondered since his failed presidential bid if he would seek another term in the governor's office — or make another bid for the White House.
Perry initially said he planned to announce his future political plans by July 1, but delayed the announcement after he called legislators back to a second special session to address three bills — regarding abortion, transportation and juvenile sentencing — that died during the first special session after a more than 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
He was very secretive about the event, and his announcement, not even officially divulging the site of the location — Holt Cap, a Caterpillar equipment company in San Antonio led by San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt — until Sunday.
Before the event, a logo nearly identical to the one he used during his 2012 presidential bid, was displayed on a video screen.
A video broadcast on that screen touted Perry as “America’s greatest job creation governor,” and noted Perry accomplishments including creation, less spending, fair regulation and less government.
Perry, a Paint Creek native, has been involved in Texas politics for decades.
He egan his political career as a state representative — where he began as a Democrat but later switched parties to become a Republican — for six years.
By 1991, he successfully ran for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, a post he held for eight years, until he was elected lieutenant governor.
He served in that job for nearly two years, until he was sworn in as Texas’ 47th governor after George W. Bush resigned to become president.
After finishing Bush’s term, Perry won election on his own in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
The last time he faced a significant challenger, then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, he painted her as a moderate and an entrenched Washington insider, and soundly trounced her in the GOP primary election.
But his winning streak ground to a halt when he ended a five-month long presidential bid in January 2012. He immediately had became the front-runner but after lackluster debate performances and other missteps — including his infamous “oops” moment — his campaign struggled.
For months, Texans and political analysts have wondered if Perry — already the state’s longest serving governor — would seek another term in the governor’s mansion and/or perhaps make a second bid for president.
He repeatedly said he would consider seeking re-election to a fourth full-term as governor as well as another run at the presidency. He had planned to announce at least part of his political plans on July 1, but delayed that announcement after calling state lawmakers back to work for a second special session.