With Perry Campaigning, Who Governs Texas?
Gov. Rick Perry is in Iowa today before heading back to New Hampshire and South Carolina later this week. What does that mean for the business of the state while he’s out of pocket?
First of all, there is a chain of command. When Governor Rick Perry heads out of state, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst assumes the role of chief executive. If both are out, the president pro tem of the Senate takes over and so on. But in the months immediately after a regular legislative session, no matter who’s in charge, there’s just not much to do.
“It’s not on auto-pilot, but it’s pretty routine, especially the first you of the biennium,” says former State Representative Talmadge Heflin. He was on the House Appropriations committee the last time a Texas governor was out campaigning for President back in 1999.
“It’s kind of like if you were paid twice a year,” Heflin says. “When you first get your paycheck, there are a lot fewer questions you have to answer than in the fifth month.”
When those questions do come up, there’s a pretty extensive system to address them. And Perry has more appointees in place to handle issues at every level of government than any other Texas governor.
It’s similar to how a large company might work. A consumer complaint does not go straight to the CEO. There are managers and advisors in place to vet the problem before taking it to the boss for a final decision.
“Now, it’s not to say the governor is not needed,” Heflin says. “Certainly, there are questions that come up where the governor is needed.”
And it’s not like Governor Perry won’t be back in the state at all. He’s actually scheduled to return to Austin in the next week or so. There’s bound to be plenty things waiting for his signature.