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November 11, 2013 11:27 AM Perry Outflanked Again?

By Ed Kilgore

Poor old Rick Perry. Having carefully cultivated an image as a fire-breathing, red-meat-purveying conservative in the build-up to his run for the presidency in 2012, he quickly let himself get outflanked on the Right on immigration by Mitt Romney. Now that he’s warming up to a reboot, there’a a threat to his positioning much closer to home, as Politico’s Katie Glueck reports:

Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry are both angling to run for president. And the prospect of a clash between the two Texas-sized egos who represent different eras of the GOP - and who aren’t openly rivals but haven’t betrayed warm fuzzies for one another, either - has tongues wagging….
If the two ultimately take the plunge, their dynamic would highlight just how far to the right the Republican Party has moved over the past year. As staunchly conservative as Perry is, Cruz could make the longtime governor look like an old-guard member of the GOP’s establishment wing, Texas observers say. For activists furious over Obamacare and enthralled with Cruz’s aggressive approach to taking on Democrats and even moderates of his own party, the freshman senator represents the best hope for the next generation of conservatism.
“What we do know is that what was once Rick Perry’s party is now very clearly Ted Cruz’s,” a Texas GOP operative said.

That conclusion was reinforced by a new PPP survey of Texas that provides a splash of cold water for Rick Perry, and a cautionary tale to those who have written off Cruz as fatally self-damaged by his failed “Defund Obamacare” crusade:

Cruz is the overwhelming top choice of Texas Republicans to be their Presidential candidate in 2016. He gets 32% to 13% for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, 10% for Rand Paul, 6% for Bobby Jindal, 5% each for Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, and 3% each for Rick Santorum and an incredibly weak on the home front Rick Perry. Cruz’s 19 point lead over the GOP field is up from 12 in late June….
The poll numbers are overall brutal for Perry with only 15% of voters in the state thinking he should run for President in 2016 to 73% who think he should sit it out. Even among Republicans only 22% think he should run while 60% say no.

On top of everything else, ol’ Rick is the only named Republican in the poll trailing Hillary Clinton in Texas.

Having finally relinquished his grip on the governorship via retirement next year, and not getting any younger (he’s 63), Perry could wait around to try to become Secretary of Commerce in some other Republican’s administration, or just take to preaching. Lord knows he can always score a bunch of corporate board memberships in gratitude for his many years as the cowboy-liveried lackey of the job-creating set.

Why shouldn’t bone-gnawing constitutional conservatives prefer the famously credentialed championship debater Cruz to the guy who couldn’t seem to find his own butt with both hands during the 2012 cycle of presidential debates? Rick Perry had his opening when Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty imploded late in 2011, and just blew it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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