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Texas has been the economic leader in the US for years. They are a model for American job creation. Taxes are lower, cost of living is lower, and opportunity is everywhere. Governor Rick Perry has been at the helm for 14 years – the longest serving governor in Texas history. I was able to sit down with him in New Orleans this weekend at the 5th annual RedState Gathering, where he seemed more interested in talking tattoos, grandbabies and shoes than talking shop… until he had the opportunity to brag about Texas.

He’s quick not to take too much credit for the success of his state, though – “I’m not thinking this is all about me,” he says. “I’ve worked with the legislature to create the environment.”

The success of Texas has sparked some healthy competition between other GOP governors, which Perry seems to delight in. The idea of competition was addressed in his RedState Gathering remarks, where he referenced a red state path vs. a blue state path, a concept which he hopes becomes a major national discussion. A long time defender of the 10th Amendment, Perry often says he’s aiming to “make D.C. as inconsequential as possible” in the lives of people in his state. But what exactly does he mean by the “red state path?”

“More competition across the board. Regardless of preference, states are where the issues are decided. People should live in a community that better reflects your beliefs.” He was quick to add that the most influential areas are economic – taxation, etc.

So is he feeling pressure to pick up the slack from the feds, since they seem completely incapable of fixing any of our country’s problems?

“We feel pressure to defend what is Constitutionally guaranteed,” he says, obviously annoyed by this assessment, and cited A.G. Eric Holder’s insistence on “contesting their ability to have fair and legal elections.”

Clearly not interested in 2016 talk at this point (he says he’ll make a decision in a year or so), we took a look back at his presidential run, and he was more than willing to impart his wisdom on anyone looking to jump in: “If you’re going to run, you need to get in early, you can’t parachute in in August. And, on a more personal note, don’t have major back surgery 6 weeks before it starts… no matter how bad you think you are.”

But his legacy, he hopes, will be a bit more simple.  “A very short 4 letter word: Jobs,” he says with a smile. “A family that is better able to take care of their children and give them opportunities…. what’s better than that?”

by Tabitha Hale |