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.