COPPELL — The buzz picked up again Tuesday about whether Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry would run for re-election in 2014. His legislative director indicated it was a done deal, but Perry wouldn't go that far.
Perry — who avoided Texas media interviews during his failed presidential run a year ago — now appears frequently in front of the cameras, like a recent event in Coppell at a UPS warehouse to extol budget ideas he's pushed for years, like spending gas taxes only on roads.
He called for an end to the gas tax diversions that he championed in 2006 and 2010 without success.
"They've been tapped for entirely different purposes, and that has to stop," he said.
Perry's political rehabilitation comes ahead of the January legislative session, and points to a decision next year whether to seek reelection.
The governor's legislative director, Ken Armbrister, answered that question Tuesday during a panel discussion at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the University of Texas at Austin.
Moderator Evan Smith, Editor in Chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, asked about politics in the 2013 session; that's when Armbrister said Perry told him he will run again.
But hours later in Coppell, Perry said his aide — a former legislator — just "hears what he wants to hear," and there's no announcement yet.
"Remember one of the things about Ken Armbrister: He's been in the legislature since 1983, and from time to time his hearing gets impaired," the governor said.
If Perry's not stepping over the line just yet, he's right at it. He told Texas newspaper editorial writers last week that as long as his health is good and he's passionate about serving, he doesn't know why he would do something different.
"I'm very clear in not crossing that line," Perry said in response to a question from WFAA at the Coppell event. "So when June rolls around and we have the veto period over with, I'll be hopefully making an announcement of my intentions then."
Perry is already the state's longest-serving governor. He took office in December, 2000. If reelected, his next term would end in early 2019.