Until Rick Perry and David Dewhurst make their 2014 intentions public, we can expect rampant media speculation. But the key to both men’s re-election chances, and to the 2014 elections in general, is largely going overlooked: 2013.
What the media, and Texans as a whole, should be asking is not who will be on the ticket in 2014, but what policy outcomes will be (or won’t be) implemented in 2013? And who will have a hand in achieving those outcomes?
Both Perry and Dewhurst hit the ground running setting the tone for 2013. Governor Perry launched the Texas Budget Compact, a bold five-point plan to make Texas stronger by capping spending, cutting wasteful government, opposing new taxes, practicing truth in budgeting, and preserving a strong Rainy Day Fund. The lieutenant governor joined Perry in calling for its passage.
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has also shaken up the Senate’s committee chair assignments, reflecting a more conservative body next session. Chairmanships moving in the right direction include Senators Tommy Williams replacing the retiring Steve Ogden as Finance Chair, Dan Patrick replacing the retiring Florence Shapiro in Public Education, and Kel Seliger replacing Democrat Judith Zaffirini at Higher Education.
Clearly, both Messrs. Perry and Dewhurst are committed to conservative reforms when the Legislature meets in January.
Unfortunately, the leader of the state’s lower chamber, Speaker Joe Straus, isn’t committed to those same outcomes. In fact, the speaker’s office is now resorting to accusing grassroots conservatives of having a “special interest agenda” for questioning why Mr. Straus won’t jump on board.
If the media were seeking to serve the public, putting a spotlight on the potential bottleneck to conservative legislation in the House should take precedence over speculation about the 2014 ballot.
Will the legislature start practicing zero-based budgeting?
These are the questions that should be asked, and will define 2014.