Texas Gov. Rick Perry has some Democratic strategists gleefully looking forward to running against a hard-right Tea Party Republican who has toyed with secession and looks an awful lot like George W. Bush. But his record of leaving opponents in the dust is well documented:
Since 1984, the man once derided as “Governor Good Hair” has participated in ten contested elections and won all of them. A few were against relatively weak opposition, but many were against prominent figures who were expected to give Perry a run for his money. Jim Hightower, John Sharp, Tony Sanchez, Chris Bell, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Bill White—you could competently govern a medium-sized republic with political talent like that. But all of them fell to Perry’s deep coffers, disciplined campaign style, occasional refusal to debate, and (semi-) popularity among Texans.
Texas political scientists I spoke to when I wrote about Perry’s candidacy in waiting last month said the same thing: Perry is consistently underestimated, and often clobbers his initially-favored opponents.