Is There Any Red Meat Left to Throw?

Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, delivers his 2013 State of the State Address

Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, delivers his 2013 State of the State Address

Gov. Perry avoided the hot button issues of abortion, immigration and gun control so that he could instead focus on the infrastructure needs of Texas in his State of the State address. Aman Batheja has the details over at the Texas Tribune.

While many in the Austin chattering class have been trying to figure out if he’ll run for re-election, setting himself up for another possible run for the presidency, there’s growing sentiment that Perry is ready to ride off into the political sunset after this legislative session is over.

This is an art, not a science so stay with me here.

If the governor wants to stay viable with the conservative base without hyper-focusing on social issues, talking about “tax relief”  is a nifty way to thread the needle. That’s what Perry did today, but it’s worth noting he headlined a “right to life” rally on the south steps of the capitol on Saturday. At that rally, Attorney General Greg Abbbott, who is likely running for governor in 2014, praised Perry as the most pro-life governor in America. If Abbott expects to face off against Perry in a primary, I’m not sure he’d be providing the Perry campaign with quotes like that.

Seems to me the two men have probably talked about this, Perry said he’s moving on, and the torch will be passed to Abbott. But, I’m just guessing about that. So is everyone else.

Harvey Kronberg at the Quorum Report has previously reported that it is entirely possible Perry will not name any emergency items this session, which would clear the way for the legislature to have what Speaker Joe Straus hopes will be a “serious” session about serious issues.

The last time Perry embraced a big push on infrastructure, it was back when he was the champion of the now mothballed Trans Texas Corridor. For that, he suffered blistering attacks from conservatives around the state who argued it was a massive land grab and an all out assault on private property rights. Perry eventually backed down and the ambitious tollroad plan is now just a memory.

In the last legislative session, Perry wanted lawmakers to leave the “rainy day fund” untouched – now he says it’s cool to take nearly $4 billion of it for water and roads. The backdrop for that: Perry was gearing up to run for president. The rhetoric is still conservative, but the governor’s positions are changing. That makes me think his plans are, too.

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