- Age: 61
- Claim to Fame: Current Texas governor
- Economic Expertise: Big job creation in one of America’s biggest states
Though it’s hard for some to believe, Texan Rick Perry has been the governor of Texas since 2000 when he took the reins of the Lone Star State from George W. Bush. And after months of speculation now that his third term is drawing to a close, Perry has at last thrown his hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry has been stumping hard since his formal announcement of his candidacy on Aug. 13, mostly by touting his experience helping the Texas economy thrive and create new jobs. Specifically, the governor talks up the fact that almost 40% of the nation’s new jobs since June 2009 have been created in his home state of Texas. The reasons? Perry claims low taxes and few regulations – including right-to-work laws and so called “tort reform” to reduce the impact of lawsuits against corporations – enticed employers to add new positions here and not elsewhere in the U.S.
This record surely will connect with some. But for others, the claim that Perry “put Texas to work” is way off base. Texas disproportionately employs folks in the energy sector, and comparatively high crude oil and natural gas prices are surely a factor to consider. And as some critics have pointed out, the median household income in Texas has fallen to 47th in the nation and employment numbers fail to account for the massive number of “underemployed” folks who can’t make ends meet at minimum wage.
Furthermore, the fact Perry was handed the baton from George W. Bush in 2000 – and indeed served as his lieutenant governor before then – could against him in the general election.
All that said, jobs are clearly the focus right now and Perry’s “Texas miracle” could be tough to top on the campaign trail as Americans look to GOP candidates for solutions to our current unemployment woes.