SAN ANTONIO —
“So many people are supporters and are going to stay supporters,” said Roy Bailey, a Dallas businessman who has been a top Perry fundraiser.
Perry has been a leading voice on many social issues conservatives hold dear, including states’ rights, relaxed environmental regulations, strict abortion limits and opposition to gay marriage.
An Eagle Scout, Perry urged the Boy Scouts not to accept openly gay youngsters. The governor, an avid defender of gun rights, once produced a laser-sighted pistol from his running shorts and shot a coyote while jogging in rural Austin.
Under him over the past decade, Texas has created a third of the net new jobs nationwide, and Perry credits the state’s relaxed regulatory climate and limits on civil lawsuits. But critics point out consequences of little oversight, such as the lightly-regulated fertilizer plant that exploded in April in the town of West, killing 15 people.
Perry detractors also note that the governor opposes expanding Medicaid coverage in Texas — a centerpiece of the White House’s health care reform law — even though his state has the highest rate of people without medical insurance in the country.
As an example of just how powerful Perry has become in his home state, Glazer noted his veto last month of funding for Texas’ ethics-enforcement unit, which investigates wrongdoing by public officials. The governor said he was doing so because the district attorney in charge, Rosemary Lehmberg, had refused to resign following her conviction for drunk driving.
Glazer pointed out that the unit was investigating the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, an agency which has faced a criminal investigation into an $11 million grant that was given to a private company without the proper review process — and amid questions about whether Perry donors were involved.
Perry first won a seat in the Texas Legislature as a Democrat in 1984, when Texas was still reliably blue. As the state turned deeply red, Perry shifted too. Democrats have not captured a statewide office in nearly 20 years.