"I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership. Today I am announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas. I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state."
Those are the words of Texas Governor Rick Perry on Monday. I must admit that I am surprised by his decision. I had expected him to run again, if for no other reason, just to keep his name before the American people. Rick Perry wants more than anything else to be president, and I expected him to use a gubernatorial campaign and new term as a springboard to the Republican nomination in 2016.
But maybe Perry is smarter than I gave him credit for. The latest polls show that most Texans did not want him to run for re-election -- even a significant majority of Republicans opposed it. And he hasn't been winning any new friends with his effort to close 37 out of 42 women's clinics in the state that perform abortions (or his recent embarrassing remarks about State Senator Wendy Davis). Maybe he is just trying to avoid the humiliation of a defeat in the Republican primary for governor -- which would put the final nail in his coffin regarding any future run for president.
I don't think Perry is currently a viable candidate for president among Republicans. Most polls show him in single digits -- far behind several other candidates. But reputations have been rehabilitated before (remember Richard Nixon, who surprised most people by grabbing the GOP nomination in 1968), and Perry will have a couple of years to try. And without the duties of being governor, he will have the time to travel across the nation in that effort.
In my opinion, that's what his decision not to run for re-election is all about. He wants to run for president in 2016.