If You Are A Democrat, Fear Rick Perry

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 6, 2010


So sayeth the Texas Monthly. It’s hard to disagree:

. . . Here is my advice to Bill White: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE RICK PERRY. You’re smarter than he is. In every other aspect of politics, he is better than you are. He has more experience, he is more personable, he has more discipline, he knows the state better, he has a bigger following, he has the better organized political party, he has the bigger fundraising base, he is hungrier, he is meaner. You are going to have to raise the level of your game. And then you are going to have to raise it again. Your natural impulse will be to react to Perry as Ann Richards did to Bush, only moreso: underestimate him, underrate him, regard him as dumb, treat him as a lightweight. If you do this, and I’m not sure you can help yourself — Richards couldn’t, [Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison [who lost to Perry in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor] couldn’t — you will lose by fifteen points and be like all the other corpses in the political graveyard who can’t believe they lost to … Rick Perry? Perry is many things you and I don’t admire, but he is not a lightweight. One reason that he beat Hutchison like a drum is that he has an unerring sense of who his constituency is and what they want. He also has a first-rate political team that has been together for years. Here is what the Democrats must not forget: Rick Perry was a ten-year incumbent running for reelection in a year when incumbency was the mark of Cain in the Republican party. He should have been the target of the Tea Parties, but he has such finely tuned political instincts that he knew he had to get out in front of the movement and co-opt it. You’re an amateur up against a pro. That’s the way to think of it. Laugh about his hair and he’ll destroy you the way he did Hutchison.

Our own Ben Domenech interviewed Governor Perry, and made many of the same points. And as the Governor indicates in his interview, he certainly understands politics. Backwards and forwards. I don’t know if that makes Rick Perry a future President of the United States. But it certainly makes him a major political figure.

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