Rick Perry isn't long for the Texas governor's office. He steps aside in a few days, handing it over to Greg Abbott, who'll inherit an office that looks a lot different from the one that Perry inherited in December 2000 when he became governor upon George W. Bush's election as president of the United States.
Texas Tribune is taking a long look at Perry's record-setting time as governor. As I looked at the first installment, though, I am struck by a single phrase that seems to sum up -- at least for me -- the single biggest part of the Perry Legacy.
It's the power he brought to the governor's office.
Tribune reporters Reeve Hamilton and Jay Root cite the longevity of Perry's tenure, which is longer than anyone else in Texas history.
Then they note: "People crossed Perry at their peril, whether they were appointees who dared support a political challenger or lawmakers who opposed his legislative program. Jim Henson, a Texas Tribune pollster and director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said Perry expanded the powers of the governor’s office 'in a way that is certainly not contemplated in the Texas Constitution nor really in the political culture of the state.'”
Expanded the powers of the governor's office "in a way not comtemplated in the Texas Constitution"?
Did he ever.
Perry was governor for 14 years. During that time, he used his office as the bulliest of pulpits imaginable. He touted the state's economic growth, which some have labeled a "miracle" at a time when much of the country fell into a deep recession in late 2008 and early 2009. He went shopping for jobs to relocate to Texas from other state, notably Illinois, New York and California. JC Penney decided to move its corporate offices to Plano, partly because Perry persuaded the company to come enjoy the state's pro-business low-tax environment.
It well might be that Perry's lasting legacy will be in the appointments he made to every single board and commission in which the governor has appointment power. All the appointees are making decisions in accordance with the policies that Perry favors. Therein lies the historical power of the governor's office.
Rick Perry, though, expanded that power simply by being governor for so long.
Like him or dislike him, Gov. Perry's mark on the state is indelible. It's been said the Texas governor is a "relatively weak office." Rick Perry has ingrained some inherent power in this so-called weak office.