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July 13, 2011

Perry Looking Like a Candidate, With Nonsense "Scandals" Now Being Pushed to an Eager Press

This "scandal" is lame.

The taxpayers are paying for Governor Perry's Austin residence, you see. To the tune of $600,000 or $700,000 per year in rent.

Wait, not per year. That's the total rent over four years.

But wait -- Don't taxpayers usually pay for the governor's residence, in the form of an official state mansion?

Why yes they do. In this case, the state is paying for a different residence, because the official governor's residence is being renovated after damage caused by... well, arson, they think.

So I'm not really getting the scandal here. The mansion the governor gets to live in was damaged by arson -- most likely by a Democrat, just noting that -- and is being repaired. While it's repaired, the taxpayers are paying for a second residence.

Is this a scandal? The AP thinks so, and so do some in the conservative press, I guess.

For almost four years, Perry has resided in a lavish rental home tucked into the hills overlooking the capital city of Austin, a house that has been publicly financed to the tune of over $700,000 thus far. At a time when the language of belt-tightening drives grass-roots GOP politics like little else, Perry would likely face scrutiny over whether his personal lifestyle choices befit a candidate who has made vast spending cuts a cornerstone of his platform.

As Texas faced a projected budget shortfall last year, the Associated Press reported that state taxpayers had been billed for almost $600,000 to pay rent, utilities and upkeep on the five-bedroom mansion outside the state capital, which Perry had moved into in the fall of 2007 while renovations were being done on the governor's mansion.

In 2008, a fire that investigators deemed arson partially destroyed the mansion, and Perry has continued to live in the rental home, which is currently valued just north of $1 million, while his official residence continues to be restored.

The AP's 2010 report laid out some of Perry's state-funded expenses on the temporary residence, including $8,400 for maintenance on a heated pool, $1,001 for Neiman Marcus window coverings, and $1,000 for repairs on a filtered ice machine. And in a detail that might be of negligible concern to Texas taxpayers but could make for a convenient talking point for Perry's future GOP opponents, the governor charged the state $70 for a subscription to Food & Wine Magazine at his home.

"We're paying $10,000 a month for it at a time when Texans are facing a massive budget shortfall, and it's irresponsible for Texans to have to pay for his extravagant lifestyle," Texas Democratic Party communications director Kirsten Gray said. "No governor who spends $1,000 in taxpayer money for Neiman Marcus window coverings can call himself a conservative."

That's just awesome, but a thousand dollars for "window coverings" (which I think we generally know as "curtains") doesn't seem so extravagant to me.

Meanwhile, top operatives and donors say most of them are uncommitted, as they're not taken with the current field, and are all but inviting Perry to sweep them up.

“It’s a huge opening for Rick Perry — huge, huge, huge,” said New Hampshire operative Mike Dennehy, who is neutral in the race. “If he announces and really announces with a bang, he could gobble up a solid third of the Republican Party establishment in New Hampshire and, I do believe, nationally.”

Many of former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour’s supporters, who have largely stayed on the fence since the Mississippi governor decided not to run in 2012, are preparing to back Perry. Henry Barbour, the governor’s nephew and a member of the RNC, said that he would endorse Perry if he runs.

Meanwhile, Perry's checking out Iowa...

Republican activist Joni Scotter told POLITICO she got a surprise phone call this afternoon from Perry, asking about the political landscape as it relates to him.

“It was just a surprise,” said Scotter, of Marion, who’s well-known for her frequent appearances at Iowa Republican events and is a coveted worker bee on presidential campaigns. She said she didn’t know how Perry got her number.

“He sounded great and just asked if he should run,” she said. “And I said, of course.” She said he said he hadn’t made up his mind. …

Dave Carney, Perry’s top strategist, confirmed that the governor had been reaching out to Republican caucus-goers.

...and Perry's checking out New Hampshire...

Multiple Republican sources tell NH Journal that Perry is calling top-shelf Republican leaders in the Granite State. One Republican state Senator who received a call from the Governor confirmed that he has been discussing his entry into the presidential sweepstakes with leading state Republicans for the past few days.

Another Republican who spoke to Gov. Perry told NH Journal it sure sounds like he’s planning to run.

Yeah so he's in.

A Qunnippiac poll has Perry at 10%, in fourth, after Romney, Bachmann, and Palin (at 12%). And that's his debut, as a not-yet-announced candidate.

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posted by Ace at 01:00 PM

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