Do you think Rick Perry will run for president in 2016?
SAN ANTONIO – Speaking Monday before dozens of friends and supporters at a construction equipment dealership in San Antonio, Rick Perry announced he would not seek a record fourth term as Texas governor, opening the door for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to run.
“Today, I am announcing I will not seek re-election as Governor of Texas,” Perry said to disappointed supporters. "I am looking forward to serving out the next 18 months. Any future considerations (such as a White House bid) I will announce in due time."
The announcement is attracting much attention in Texas political circles because it will start a chain reaction of other politicians clamoring to move up, potentially reshuffling the state’s top officeholders for the first time in more than a decade.
"It creates an opening for others," said Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams. "It's going to be interesting to see how that game plays out."
One of those others is Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, who is expected to reveal within days whether he will run for governor.
A number of politicians reportedly want Abbott's job if he vacates his seat as Attorney General — including Dallas state Rep. Dan Branch.
Perry revealed his decision inside a hot garage at a Holt/Caterpillar facility in southeast San Antonio. The construction equipment company is owned by Peter M. Holt, who also owns the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. State records show Holt donated more than $587,000 to the Texans For Rick Perry political action committee.
Still, many political observers said they expect Perry to consider a run for the White House in 2016.
“Depending on who's at the top of the [2016 GOP] ticket, they might need a southern conservative, and that might be Rick Perry,” said Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy on WFAA's Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.
The image splashed across the top of Perry’s political website shows the governor holding an American flag rather than the Lone Star flag.
“Part of Perry wanting to return to the national scene is him wanting to undo some of that damage and show the nation he can do better than he did in 2012,” said Gromer Jeffers, political writer for The Dallas Morning News, on Sunday’s "Inside Texas Politics" broadcast.
But a University of Texas-Texas Tribune poll in mid-June showed Texas voters would prefer U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over Gov. Perry if the two were in a hypothetical match-up for president.
Cruz received 25 percent of the support in that poll, while Perry came in fourth with 10 percent behind U.S. senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
Though observers say Cruz is believed to be raising his profile by speaking at conservative fundraisers nationwide, the freshman senator has not yet said whether he’ll make a run for president.
A more recent survey of 500 Texas voters by Public Policy Polling suggests Rick Perry should not run for re-election. Sixty percent of respondents did not want him to seek a fourth term as governor while 30 percent said they would support him in it.
“Attorney General Greg Abbott in the coming days will announce his run for governor and then the dominoes will start falling,” Jeffers speculated. “You’ll see [four-term State Representative] Dan Branch announce for attorney general, maybe others after that. We’re in for exciting times.”
It's the first seismic political shift at the Capitol since George W. Bush traded the Governor's Mansion for the White House.