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By Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas Morning News (TNS)

AUSTIN, Texas — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says a setback this week in his efforts to quash a criminal indictment won’t deter him from stumping in the early primary states as he explores whether to run for president again.

“We’re moving right along as we had expected to,” Perry said at an Austin news conference. “We’ll make a decision (on running) and I’ll actually make an announcement in the May-June timetable, just like we had intended to before this.”

Perry, a Republican who served 14 years as governor, said he is finding crowds “very supportive” of his stand in favor of “the rule of law.”

Criminal defense attorney David Botsford said Perry’s legal team would try to knock down the former governor’s indictment for alleged abuse of power in connection with a 2013 veto threat involving Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, after her drunken driving conviction. Perry demanded she resign or lose a two-year, $7.5 million budget allocation to her office’s Public Integrity Unit, which among other things investigates state government corruption.

On Tuesday, special Judge Bert Richardson rejected defense motions that he dismiss a two-count felony indictment against Perry, saying it was premature to rule on some of the constitutional questions being raised.

Botsford said Perry immediately will mount an appeal of Richardson’s ruling before the state 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin.

“It could take anywhere from 30 to 45 to 60 days for the 3rd Court of Appeals to issue an opinion in connection with an expedited appeal,” Botsford said. “That’s not an unreasonable period of time to expect the court to resolve the constitutional issues, as in fact they need to.”

Delays in putting the case behind him, though, could hurt Perry’s efforts to line up supporters and money, experts have said.

Perry said he would “make the same decision today” about trying to force a tainted public official to the sidelines.

A left-of-center Texas political activist, though, said Perry has been selective in responding to Texas prosecutors’ drunken driving troubles.

Ed Espinosa, executive director of Progress Texas, said Perry had not acted against Republican district attorneys.

“He’s trying to win over the court of public opinion,” Espinosa said. “But what he needs to do is win over an actual court — and he hasn’t been able to do that yet.”

Photo: Denise Flores via Flickr

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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