One Up, One Down

Tim Pawlenty is dropping out after yesterday’s disappointing result in the Iowa straw poll, which was won by Bachmann. I’m surprised. Pawlenty wasn’t too far back in the non-crazy division of the GOP field. But it’s become clear that he’s not going to overtake Romney. I suspect there are structural problems within the campaign as well.

However, as the GOP field lost one governor, it gained another in Ricky Perry. Perry’s appeal is mostly due to the decent Texas economy and his embrace of the Religious Right. He was my governor for four years and my opinion was … mixed. Just as the blame for the bad national economy should be put on decades of accumulated bad decisions, the health of Texas’ economy should be credited to decades of good ones, most notably Texas’ sensible regulation of the housing market following the real estate bubble of the 1980′s. Texas housing prices didn’t go on the roller coaster ride other areas experienced, so the housing sector didn’t take the rest of the economy with it. Low taxes have helped, but it’s easier to keep taxes low when you’ve had a series of legislatures and governors committed to keep them that way. Perry didn’t save Texas’ economy; he continued policies that have kept it healthy. This is not a model for what needs to be done on a national level.

Perry has a bad history of crony capitalism, creating slush funds to finance business ventures by the politically powerful. He also has been very cavalier in asserting the most awesome power the government has: the power to execute people. On the other hand, Texas is one of the leaders in taking a more sensible approach to crime, having reduced its prison population even to the point of closing a prison, without seeing a spike in crime.

Mixed, as I said. We’ll have to see what comes out of the debates. But right now, assuming Pawlenty really is out, this is really going to come down to Perry and Romney. In my mind, the others break down as such:

Leader, Crazy Division: Bachmann
Been Nice Knowing You: Cain, Gingrich
Wish He’d Get More Attention, but Alas: Huntsman, Johnson, Paul
Who the Hell are You Again?: Karger, Martin, McCotter, McMillan, Roemer
And the Horse You Rode In On: Santorum

Palin isn’t in yet and I’m not sure that she ever will be. If she does jump in, it will be mostly to drum up some attention and donations. But she really doesn’t strike me as a serious contender. If she were, she’d be in by now. But Perry and Bachmann have stolen her spot.

So, who will be next off the island? I mean, of the big guys. I expect Santorum to drop out soon — his campaign isn’t drawing enough to even cover expenses. Then Gingrich and Cain once the real primaries roll up. Bachman, Paul and Johnson may linger around for a while, given the passion certain segments of the GOP have for them.

Right now, I’ll continue to support Johnson and Paul. But it’s really down to Romney and Perry. And between them … hmmm.

  1. I’d a lot more thrilled about Perry if he wasn’t a bible-thumping suck-up to the evangitards.

    Romney is too liberal, Gringrich is too much himself (a horse’s ass), and Bachman I don’t know enough about. The fact that the press hates her at least as much as Palin is a good indicator that she’s on the right track about things.

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  2. Why the fuck is Iowa so important? The straw poll isn’t even a good way to measure support in Iowa. I’m not a big fan of Pawlenty, but dropping out after this? Our electoral system is screwed up when a few thousand Iowans can kill the national campaign of a major candidate.

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  3. Too bad. Pawlenty was, as you said, part of the saner wing of the GOP. Maybe a run for the Senate against Al Frankenweenie?

    Unfortunately, Huntsman just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, either. Was he even at the last debate? (Speaking of which, where the heck was Johnson?)

    As far as Perry goes, if he can get away from the Fundies, he might have a shot as a Romney alternative. Pluses for him include Texas’s booming economy, and the fact that he didn’t come with a silver spoon in his mouth.
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  4. FWIW, the governor of Texas doesn’t have a lot of power over the process of executing people. The people of Texas designed things that way on purpose.

    That came up during Dubya’s run for the Presidency; a lot of people criticized him for not doing things he really didn’t have the power to do.

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  5. Techno, that was relevant when people were criticizing Bush for how many people were executed. It’s not relevant here. Read Balko’s article. Perry dismissed several members of the forensics board while they were investigating the Willingham matter. And his justice department continues to fight against DNA testing in the Skinner case, despite losing in SCOTUS. In both cases, he’s talked more about how they were bad people and he knows they’re guilty. He’s uninterested in a full investigation. For someone to be that cavalier about the most awesome power government possesses is alarming.

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  6. Texas is the reason that people who would generally support the death penalty have such a hard time with it. Prosecutions tend to be political,what with elections always around the corner, and when you point out they have innocent people on death row they fucking don’t want to hear about it.

    Better to give them a dirt nap than point out that the police, judges, and prosecutor might have suppressed and/or fabricated evidence in the name of a speedy conviction.

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  7. I live in Iowa and I can’t stand the Iowa Caucuses either – it all just seems so fake to me to see national politicians who are largely creatures of the East and West coasts (which is where their allies/constituencies are even if the politician is from somewhere like Illinois or Minnesota) come to Iowa every 4 years and pretend to care about the Midwest and our issues.

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  8. Iowa makes certain their primary precedes any others. When other states moved theirs up before Iowa 1 or 2 cycles ago, they responded by moving theirs. They are hell-bent on being first because the first primary has great impact on national politics as a whole. This allows them to make sure that a candidate must curry favor with favorable farm policy to expect to proceed onto other primaries. Pawlenty dropped out because he put most of his eggs in the Iowa basket, being Minnesota’s neighbor, and when he realized this was as good as he could do with “local” recognition, he saw the writing on the wall.

    Pawlenty has been my governor for the last 8 years, and while he’s vetoed several attempts at tax hikes, he’s been a big agribusiness supporter (ethanol subsidies & fuel blending requirements), has allowed revenue hikes as long as they were called “fees,” and the bastard likes to build trains. I willingly call him a RINO, though better than McCain, but not by much.

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  9. Huntsman sounds good for the party:

    TAPPER: These comments from Governor Perry prompted you to Tweet, quote: “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” Were you just being cheeky or do you think there’s a serious problem with what Governor Perry said?

    HUNTSMAN: I think there’s a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party – the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.

    The Republican Party has to remember that we’re drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. And we’ve got a lot of traditions to draw upon. But I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/08/jon-huntsman-comes-out-swinging.html

    I would hope that he would gain more support than he would lose taking this stance.

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