Matt Lewis

Sources: Rick Perry is running

Two separate and reliable sources in Texas tell me serious preparations are being made for Governor Rick Perry, 61, to seek the Republican nomination for president.

Dave Carney and Rob Johnson — the former top Perry aides who on Thursday left Newt Gingrich’s floundering campaign — are said to be heading to Texas soon to join in on preparations for the run. I am told this is now “ninety percent likely to occur.” Additionally, Perry allies have begun holding meetings in the state and have been instructed to
quietly reach out to contacts in early primary states.

The stars may have finally aligned for Perry, who, until recently, said he had no intentions of seeking the nomination. With no clear front runner emerging, and with Gingrich’s campaign dissolving, Perry could enter the field as a top-tier candidate, surrounded by the same team that helped him defeat Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison last year in the Texas gubernatorial primary. And because Texas leads the nation in job creation, the recent national economic numbers provide an instant rationale for his candidacy.

If Perry does indeed jump in the race, GOP primary voters will likely be reminded of how conservatives were outraged when he signed an executive order in 2007, making Texas the first state in the nation to mandate Human papilloma virus  (HPV) vaccinations for sixth-grade girls. They will be reminded that he endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president in 2008. And, of course, his controversial plans to create a Trans-Texas Corridor (which were finally dropped after a large public outcry) would come up. Perry would also have to find a way to extricate himself from his important duties as head of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA).

But Perry would also be one of the most charismatic and likable candidates in the field. That — coupled with his executive experience (he is now the longest serving governor in the nation) — would make him an incredibly formidable candidate. As Rush Limbaugh recently said, if Perry gets in, “it’s a brand-new day, and it starts all over again.”