Commentary By Ron Beasley
Perry for president?
There will be much more to say about Perry in the weeks and months to come, I�m sure, and I know I�ll find something about him I don�t like (I already have, actually). However, listening to his speech this afternoon I was struck with the notion that the message he was delivering was exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from a candidate if you�re a supporter. There was criticism of the incumbent, for sure, but the one thing I heard from Perry that I haven�t heard from many Republican candidates lately is the kind of optimism that Ronald Reagan projected in the depths of 1979 and 1980.
To be sure, there is much about Perry and his record that is likely to impress prospective Republican voters during the primaries and, depending on the economic conditions at the time, independent voters during a General Election against President Obama. The Texas economy has benefited from relative prosperity over the past several compared to the rest of the nation. The state�s unemployment rate is lower than the nation as a whole and the state has led the nation in job growth for the past couple years. And, Perry has managed to do all this and maintain a balanced budget without a state income tax. Judged from afar, it looks pretty darn good, and Perry will no doubt make what some call the �Perry Miracle� a central part of his campaign.
It�s all all sunshine and roses, though, and behind the curtain there are several stubborn facts that may cause problems for Perry in the primaries or, if he is the nominee, in a General Election race against President Obama.
For one thing, the Texas economic miracle may be much less than meets the eye:
Doug quotes Republican political consultant Mike Murphy.
Anyone who watched Rick Perry destroy Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Texas gubernatorial primary last year should have no illusions; he knows how to win a GOP primary. Whether Perry can win a general election or not is another matter. Most senior GOP strategists have major concerns about running a twangy Christian conservative Texan as the party�s nominee against even a weakened Barack Obama. Count me among them.
And there was what could only be considered a hit piece in the WSJ.
Gov. Rick Perry's presidential pitch goes something like this: During one of the worst recessions in American history, he's kept his state "open for business." In the last two years, Texas created over a quarter of a million jobs, meaning that the state's 8% unemployment rate is substantially lower than the rest of the nation's. The governor credits this exceptional growth to things like low taxes and tort reform.
It's a strong message. But one of the governor's signature economic development initiatives�the Texas Emerging Technology Fund�has lately raised serious questions among some conservatives.
Among the companies that the Emerging Technology Fund has invested in is Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. It received a $4.5 million grant last year�the second largest grant in the history of the fund. The founder and executive chairman of Convergen is David G. Nance.
In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor's office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry's campaigns between 2001 and 2006.
The regional panel that reviewed Convergen's application turned down the company's $4.5 million request when it presented its proposal on Oct. 7, 2009. But Mr. Nance appealed that decision directly to a statewide advisory committee (of which Mr. Nance was once a member) appointed by Mr. Perry. Just eight days later, on Oct. 15, a subcommittee unanimously recommended approval by the full statewide committee. On Oct. 29, the full advisory committee unanimously recommended the approval of Convergen's application. When asked why the advisory committee felt comfortable recommending Convergen's grant, Lucy Nashed, a spokesperson for Mr. Perry, said that the committee "thoroughly vetted the company."
Make no mistake this is a battle between the corporate Republicans and the lunatic fringe known as the Tea Party. The former will do anything they can to knock out Perry and Bachmann and will be aided by the corporate press but the latter are the ones who show up to vote in the primaries. It's significant that the first anti Perry piece was in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. It will be curious to see how the creator of the Tea Party, Murdoch's FOX News, handles this. They created a monster that may yet devour them.