Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) announced Thursday that he will again seek the Republican nomination for president. But over his 13 years as governor and his unsuccessful 2012 campaign, he established a record that could haunt his continued national ambitions.
Among the challenges he will face:
1. He is still under indictment for alleged abuse of office.
Last August, a Texas grand jury indicted then-Governor Perry for alleged “abuse of official capacity” and “coercion of public servant.” These charges stem from his threat to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless the woman who oversaw it, Travis County’s district attorney, resigned. Perry denied wrongdoing and called the charges a political witch hunt, but his attempts to get the case dismissed have been thus far unsuccessful. If convicted, he could face more than 100 years in jail, which would complicate a campaign or presidency.
2. His environmental record in Texas was abysmal.
Texas under Perry has led the nation in carbon dioxide emissions and was home to five of the ten worst mercury emitting power plants in the country. He unsuccessfully sued the federal government to try to avoid complying an EPA ruling that the state was in violation of the Clean Air Act. Perry boasts of being a climate change denier and dismissed the 2010 BP oil spill as merely an “act of God” — in a speech to a trade association funded by BP.
3. His vision of “opportunity for all” does not include LGBT people.
Perry’s slogan is “expanding opportunity for all.” But he staunchly defended of Texas’ unconstitutional anti-sodomy law which criminalized the private consensual sexual behavior of adults. When the U.S. Supreme struck down the law, Perry blasted the Court decision as the result of “nine oligarchs in robes.” In his 2012 campaign, he even ran a anti-gay TV ad, blasting open service by gay and lesbian members of the Armed Services as a “war on religion,” and decried the Boy Scouts of America’s move to allow openly gay youth as contradicting “generations of tradition in the name of political correctness.”
4. He doesn’t believe states have to follow federal laws.
In 2009, Perry famously threatened to have Texas secede from the United States if Washington “continues to thumb their nose at the American people.” He also signed a state law that attempted to simply nullify a federal law, much like the tactics of 19th century secessionists who rejected the Constitution’s clear guarantee of federal supremacy. He also argued that Texas should be able to opt-out of federal entitlements like Medicaid and Social Security, which he called a “Ponzi scheme.” In his book Fed Up!, Perry also called for the repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments, repealing the federal government’s power to collect income taxes and the right of voters (rather than state legislatures) to elect U.S. senators.
5. He opposed equal pay and reproductive rights for women.
Perry vetoed a bipartisan 2013 bill to build on the Lilly Ledbetter Act and provide more protections for Texas women, who earn about 77 cents for every dollar men make. His reasoning: it might undermine “Texas’ commitment to smart regulations and fair courts.” His legacy in Texas included pushing and signing legislation to regulate abortion clinics out of existence and to require women to have unnecessary sonograms prior to terminating their pregnancies.
Perry suspended his 2012 campaign after finishing fifth in Iowa’s caucus, with just about 10 percent of the vote. A May poll by PPP found just 3 percent of Republican voters want Perry to be their 2016 nominee.