Governor Perry No Show at Recent Wildfire Update
During Hurricanes Rita, then Ike, and Tropical Storm Hermine, Governor Rick Perry has appeared authoritative, directing state agencies with quick, calm action.
“We pre-positioned the largest search and rescue operation in the history of the State of Texas in advance of the storm. There are thousands of personnel and vehicles that were very close in to where the storm struck the coast,” Perry said during a news conference on Hurricane Ike in 2008.
But at two public appearances during the worst of last week’s wildfires, one in Bastrop and the other in Steiner Ranch, Governor Perry appeared less of an emergency response director and more of an observer.
“I mean I have seen a number of big fires in my life, this one’s as mean looking as I’ve ever seen,” Perry said.
The governor quickly left the state for campaign appearances in California and elsewhere. By Friday, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was stepping in at a news conference in Bastrop. Someone in attendance asked where Governor Perry was.
“The governor? I’m in contact with the governor…I’m not sure exactly where he is at this moment,” Dewhurst said during the briefing.
Saturday, Perry was a no show at a scheduled disaster update in Bastrop, and the frustration was evident.
While Perry’s performance may hurt his image locally, don’t expect it to hurt his political chances nationally, says Paul Stekler, a documentary producer who has covered several political campaigns.
“The most important thing for Governor Perry, I think, you know, on the national stage was the initial presence on the national news when this was a big front page story, any ramifications for what’s happened since then really becomes a local news story,” Stekler told KUT News.
Whether Perry’s GOP opponents cut him as much slack or choose to go on the offensive over his performance during Texas’ latest disaster will become clear Monday night at a Tea Party debate in Tampa.