Texas Gov. Rick Perry has often touted his political and economic success in Texas while on the presidential campaign trail. However, the Texas congressional delegation is not as eager to jump aboard the Rick Perry train.
Perry’s endorsement from his fellow Texas Republicans in Washington has been sluggish from day one of his campaign – so sluggish that some have even chosen to back his rival Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Texas Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced on Wednesday that he plans to support Romney. Smith oversees immigration laws.
“I support Mitt Romney because I believe that he has the specific skillset needed to turn around the economy: he has a conservative track record as a successful businessman and as a governor who created jobs, cut taxes, and kept spending low,” Smith said in a statement.
Many blame Perry’s “go it alone” attitude for creating a distance between him and the lawmakers. Currently only 25 Republicans have publicly supported him.
Politico asked a top Texas Republican aide on the Hill to describe the relationship between the Republicans in the congressional delegation and Perry, to which the reply was, “non-existent.”
Perry has campaigned on the idea that “federal government is bad” and has advocated for states’ rights, an issue that motivates the Tea Party. However, this appears to have created a divide between Perry and his Washington counterparts. According to Politico, many members felt Perry was “aloof and detached.”
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson challenged Perry in the gubernatorial nomination race last year. Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, hinted that the race left Republicans bitter and that could be a contributing factor to a lack of support for Perry. Approximately half of the delegation publicly supported her challenge to Perry.
“Obviously, the contested primary between Gov. Perry and Sen. Hutchison was a tough one for everybody involved,” Cornyn said to Politico. “That may be part of the reason; I don’t know.”
Hutchinson has publicly said she will endorse whoever receives the party’s nomination.
The Perry campaign has not released a public list of his endorsements.
While the lack of congressional support may appear to be dismal news for Perry, Stuart Rothenberg, editor of The Rothenberg Political Report, thinks otherwise.
In a comment to USA Today, Rothenberg stated that congressional endorsements are “ completely meaningless" in a presidential primary.
"If they mattered, Barack Obama would have won the Massachusetts Democratic primary in 2008," he said. "He had been endorsed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry and Caroline Kennedy. But Hillary Clinton won the primary easily – by more than 15 points. Case closed."