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2012 Archives

The Return of the Native:
Rick Perry as Damaged Goods in Texas


The following is from the January 23, 2012, edition of Time magazine. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

January 25, 2012

By Hilary Hylton

Sitting in his office on the Dallas campus of Southern Methodist University, political science professor Cal Jillson is mulling the news of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s departure from the presidential race.

The campus is in the heart of the Park Cities area, made up of several well-heeled, independently governed neighborhoods, including Highland Park and Preston Hollow, that serve as the core of the old Texas Republican establishment. The area is home to former President George W. Bush and party stalwarts like Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was clobbered by Perry in the last Republican primary race for governor. Two hundred miles to the west, there was likely little joy in tiny Paint Creek, where Perry was born, but there were probably some smug smiles in the genteel parlors of Highland Park and Preston Hollow.

“Chortling, likely,” Jillson says with a laugh. “I am within blocks of Highland Park, and I can hear it from here.” . . .

Indeed, Perry’s über-Texas persona on the campaign trail left some cold back home. For example, when asked in a debate what he would be doing on a Saturday night if not debating Perry reckoned he would be at the shootin’ range. “The general image of Texas in the national mind is a love/hate thing,” Jillson said, a fact of life that most Texans understand. But Perry’s reinforcement of the stereotype sent eyes rolling and radio talk show hosts pouncing. . .

But Jillson warns writing off Perry too quickly would be unwise and noted the next legislative session is a full year away. Meanwhile business and special interest lobbies “needs him every day” given his control of the state bureaucracy, Jillson adds.

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